This collaborative effort by the two talented friends working at the height of their creative powers, the famous painter Shen Zhou and the scholar and great statesman Wang Ao, was executed for their mutual friend Wu Chunhong. Shen’s soft colored washes interspersed with vigorous spiked brushstrokes are the perfect complement to Wang’s poem, which he executed in the sweeping grass cursive style.

The subjects for both painting and poem are the pomegranate branch laden with ripe bursting fruit and the swiftly growing, highly productive melon vine (known in English as a loofa). These two plants, both symbols of fecundity, carry the wish that Wu might be blessed with a long- hoped-for son.
Artist Shen Zhou, Chinese, 1427-1509
Artist Wang Ao, Chinese, 1450-1524
  • Ode to the Pomegranate and Melon Vine
Date ca. between 1506 and 1509
Medium Ink and watercolor on paper
Dimensions Overall: 110 × 37 inches (279.4 × 94 cm)
Image: 59 inches × 29 3/4 inches (149.9 × 75.6 cm)
Installed: 111 1/2 inches × 41 inches × 1 1/2 inches (283.2 × 104.1 × 3.8 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb
Accession Number 40.161
Department Asian Art
Not On View
Marks Stamps, in red, upper right corner of painting: [two seals]
Stamps, in red, lower right corner of painting: [two seals]
Stamps, in red, left center of painting: [two seals]
Stamps, in red, lower left corner of painting: [two seals]
Stamp, in red, lower left corner of calligraphy, under final calligraphic character: [one seal]
Inscriptions Calligraphy, upper portion of sheet: [the poem, Ode to the Pomegrante, by Wang Ao (Ngao), Great Minister of Wou Ying Tien, Minister of Finance and Preceptor of the Prince.]
(C.T. Loo);
1940-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 20, no. 5 (February 1941): p. 45 (ill.).

Dubosc, Jean-Pierre. Great Chinese Painters of the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties. New York, 1949, no. 9.

Art News 51, no. 3 (May 1952): p. 34 (ill.).

Grigaut, P.L. The Arts of the Ming Dynasty. Detroit, 1952, no. 7.

Richardson, E.P. Catalog of the Whitcomb Gifts, 1954, p. 115 (ill.).

Edwards, Richard. The Field of Stones. Washington D.C., 1962, p. 75, pl. 1, 46A.

Rhee, Lillian. Chinese Calligraphy. 1968.

University Liggett Antiques Show. Exh. cat., University Liggett School. Grosse Pointe Woods, 1979, p. 98.

Mitchell, S.W. "The Asian Collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts." Orientations 13, no. 5 (May 1982): pp. 14-36, fig. 4.

Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, D.C., 1991, no. 284.

Barnhart, Richard. “Two Chinese Paintings Acquired for the DIA in 1921 by Ralph H. Booth.” Bulletin of the DIA 92, no. 1/4 (2018): pp. 16-18 (figs. 11-12a-b).