La Nymphe de la rivière Luo
H. 134.2 x l. 68 cm
Peint au doigt par Wen à la demande du sieur Pei An le taoïste
Legs : Cernuschi, Henri
Inscription and signature: 款識：裴菴道長先生囑雯指墨。
Seals of the painter: 印 : 1.傅雯（白文） 2. 愷亭（朱文） Fu Wen, was, like Gao Qipei and Li Shizhuo, from a family established in Manchuria. Like many painters organized into the military Banner system,he practised finger painting, zhihua 指畫, perpetuating the art of Gao Qipei. The figure paintings by Fu Wen brought back from China by Henri Cernuschi, both finger-painted, are exemplary of the style. Fu Wen who continued to paint with a brush, executed delicate paintings, particularly landscapes in the orthodox style, which were popular at the time. Indeed, he was appointed court painter, huahua ren, 畫畫人 for a while, before being removed from this post in 1746. During this period of service in the capital he executed a monumental Buddhist composition, the Shengguo miaoyin tu, 勝果妙音圖, a work of unprecedented scope for a finger painting.
The Cernuschi Museum painting is evocative of the style of this monumental work.
Although the painting is not in the Buddhist register, the features of this nymph of the Luo River are not unlike the faces of the bodhisattvas portrayed in the Shengguo miaoyin tu. For artists at the time, female deities and Immortals belonged to the same painterly genre as beautiful ladies, as illustrated by this nymph of the Luo River. This recurrent figure painted with a long brushstroke in the composition attributed to Gu Kaizhi, had become a subject in its own right since the Ming era, like the figure of Guanyin. It is to be noted that Gao Qipei, a predecessor of Fu Wen, was in the habit of classifying his female portrayals according to how successful they were. The most accomplished women would personify the bodhisattva Guanyin, the others being designated as deities or beauties, according to their respective qualities. Several depictions of the nymph of the Luo River by the master of finger painting are known. Fu Wen’s composition can be compared to a sheet in an album in the Shanghai Museum (airy), while its use of ink, made up of spots and dry lines, evokes a vertical scroll in the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (static). The mastery of Fu Wen stems from the energy he infused into this large-format composition.