Please examine these remarkable paintings, which give us an insight into the lives of children during the Song Dynasty. They were painted by Su Hanchen (1094-1172), who was a native of Kaifeng, Henan Province, who specialized in painting Buddhist and Taoist figures.
During the Xuanhe era under Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty, Su was a Painter-in-Attendance at the imperial academy. After the court moved south, Su resumed his position there, and in the early Longxing era of Emperor Xiaozong (1130s to 1160s), he was praised for his Buddhist paintings, earning the title “Gentleman of Trust.”
In figure painting, the representation of children is recognized as one of the most difficult, especially in achieving that elusive quality of naïveté. Su Hanchen was a master of observation and description who knew that children at play are in a state of natural ease. His ability to capture the spirit and appearance of such children made him the most renowned painter in this genre.
His works can be found in several fine art museums, including the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio, and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.