Only Chinese version is available
Su Wu herding sheep
Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper
234 x 120 cm
Together with another late Qing artist, Su Renshan, Su Liupeng is acclaimed as one of the “Two Sus”. Renowned for his figure paintings, his subjects were mostly common people; his works reveal great empathy for the lower classes and also indicate that Guangdong painters were pioneers in portraying the victims of contemporary society. Su Liupeng also painted historical figures and legends, and this painting, Su Wu herding sheep, has a narrative overtone that finds inspiration in the story of Su Wu of Western Han, who lived in the 1st century BC. Sent by Emperor Wu of Han as an envoy to the Xiongnu, Su Wu was held captive by these enemies in the north for nineteen long years. But despite suffering many hardships, he refused to give up his Han identity, and the figure of Su Wu accompanied by his sheep became a popular iconic image of an unyielding hero. This massive hanging scroll portrays this loyal figure in large proportions, yet without making him larger than life. Su Liupeng has used thick outlines in typical, angular brushstrokes, while the realistic rendering of the facial features–which could almost have been taken from life–adds a strong presence to the painting, bringing this historical figure much closer to our own lives and times.
—Collection of Hong Kong Museum of Art