Of all the artists associated with the great literatus Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1559), Ch'ien Ku was perhaps closest to the master in technique and artistic temperament. Ch'ien was a direct disciple and learned poetry and calligraphy as well as painting from Wen whose stylistic influence is clearly evident in this classic Wu school commemorative painting.
The first of fourteen inscriptions attached to this scroll explains its subject. The Suchou scholar Hua Yun (1488-1560), who had received his chin-shih degree in 1541 and was serving the Ministry of Revenue in Peking, had returned home in 1545 to attend his father's funeral. When it was time for him to return to the capital, his sons, son-in-law, students, and friends, including the present artist, had a little farewell gathering along the banks of the grand canal. Several of these friends wrote the poetic inscriptions attached to the painting. In this farewell scene Hua Yun is in the red robe receiving a cup of wine offered by a student, while his brother-in-law stands to one side. Farewell parties were a large part of the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Suchou literati scene.
The inscription reads:
On an auspicious month of the year 1545.
Done by Ch'ien Ku of Chang-chou.