West Lake Scenery by Zhang Ruocheng, ink and color on folding paper fan, Qing Dynasty
Fans originated in China over 3000 years ago. During the several thousand years of evolution, calligraphy and painting on fan with unique characteristics gradually took shape other than the practical value of fans. One of the features of the art of fan painting lies in constituting large stretches of scenery in the narrow space of fan and presenting greatness through trivial details; the other feature lies in the two sides of a fan, which can be decorated with both painting and calligraphy and flawlessly integrate the calligraphic and painting art of China. These two features have been perfectly presented in this Fan Painting of the West Lake Scenery by Zhang Ruocheng.
The artist of this work Zhang Ruocheng was the second son of the three-dynasty minister Zhang Tingyu of the Qing Dynasty. He was proficient in real scene landscape painting and once painted gardens of Beijing and landscapes of Bashu for Emperor Qianlong and the Empress Dowager. This blue and green landscape painting fan of the West Lake looks like a map, which elaborately depicts the surrounding architecture and views of the West Lake. You can find a number of familiar views such as Melting Snow at the Broken Bridge, Rainbow over the Jade Belt Bridge and Sunset Glow at Leifeng Pagoda. In a manner of speaking, we can authentically take in the big West Lake within limited space. The textual introduction and route planning of these scenic spots are also inscribed in tiny regular script orderly in the other sheet of fan by Zhang Ruocheng.