Pavilion of Rising Clouds

Artist: Traditionally attributed to Mi Fu (傳)米芾 (1052-1107)
Historical period(s)
Southern Song or Yuan dynasty, mid-13th to mid-14th century
Ink on silk
H x W (image): 150 x 78.8 cm (59 1/16 x 31 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, cloud, cursive script, landscape, mountain, Song dynasty (960 - 1279)

To 1908
Isaac Taylor Headland (1859-1942), Beijing, China, and Alliance, OH, to 1908 [1]

From 1908 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Isaac Taylor Headland in 1908 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 611, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Isaac Taylor Headland (C.L. Freer source) 1859-1942


This unsigned scroll was traditionally attributed to the Northern Song dynasty artist Mi Fu. While no longer accepted as a genuine work by his hand, it remains the earliest of the extant large paintings done in the widely imitated style associated with his name. In the Mi style, landscape forms are defined by a distinctive use of layered washes and precisely applied horizontal dots, instead of the usual outlines and texture strokes, to create a subtle illusion of varying depths and densities.

The short quotation from Confucius inscribed at the top of the painting was ostensibly written by Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty (reigned 1100-25), in whose court Mi Fu once served: "[Before] heaven sends down the seasonal rains, mountains and rivers put forth clouds." The passage metaphorically defines the relationship between the benevolent rule of a sage king and the prior appearance of wise ministers to advise him. The quotation therefore adds a philosophical dimension to the work and was aptly selected both to describe the misty landscape of the painting and to laud Mi Fu as a valued servant of the throne.

The painting was also greatly admired by an illustrious previous owner, the Ming dynasty painter, calligrapher and art historian Dong Qichang (1555-1636), who provided a title calligraphy at the top and colophons on either side.

To learn more about this and similar objects, visit  Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Published References
  • Harrie A. Vanderstappen. The Landscape Painting of China: Musings of a Journeyman. .
  • Song Dynasty Paintings Project. multi-volumed, . .
  • Mary M. Mcdonald. It Draws Me: The Art of Contemplation. .
  • Stephen Little. An Introduction to Chinese Paintings in LACMA. Art Catalogues LACMA Los Angeles, CA. p. 14.
  • David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 17, fig. 17.
  • Alexandra Munroe, Richard M. Barnhart, Jonathan Hay, Wu Hung. The Art of Mu Xin: Landscape Paintings and Prison Notes: Catalog of an exhibition held at Yale University Art Gallery, Oct. 2-Dec. 9, 2001, David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Jan. 24-Mar. 31, 2002, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Oct. Exh. cat. New Haven. p. 24.
  • Sherman Lee. The Freer's Studies in Connoisseurship (Review): Museum News. vol. 44, no. 1 New York, Spring 1984. pp. 66-67, fig. 4.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 80, fig. 53.
  • Bernard Chambaz. Des nuages: de l'antiquité à nos jours. Paris. p. 103.
  • Our Inner Landscape: Living on the Rhythms of Nature. Baarn, November 28, 2007. p. 143.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
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