One Hundred Boys at Play, 1830
Ink and color on silk, 11 15/16 x 88 15/16”
The following fictional letter may have accompanied a painting such as One Hundred Boys from an artist to his patron. In China, paintings and other objects of art often function as greeting cards or gifts for special occasions. In this case, the birth of a son has prompted an individual to commission the painting from a professional painter, Gu Luo, as a congratulatory gift for the fictional Quan family.
Dear Mr. & Mrs. Quan,
Congratulations! The birth of your son is surely a happy event. Please accept this scroll as my best wishes for the future of your family and the birth of more boys. Our relationship has prospered since you first asked me to paint a simple landscape, and I wish to express my appreciation for your continued patronage. I chose to depict one hundred boys because it is a popular image associated with fertility and the continuation of our ancient culture. The recent passage of the New Year adds to the auspicious nature of his birth, and the boys in this painting are celebrating both occasions with games and their happy mood. The playful youth in this scroll are destined for greatness- as is your new son. Whether your son becomes a government official or a master painter, any member of your family will achieve great respect and fame. Be sure to keep me updated as he matures, I would be honored to depict his life as a successful member of society.
Respectfully yours, Gu Luo