Snow landscape

Artist: Formerly attributed to Wang Wei (ca. 701-761)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, late 18th-19th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 187.2 × 96.5 cm (73 11/16 × 38 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, landscape, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), snow, travel, winter

To 1916
Wang Jiantang, Shanghai to 1916 [1]

From 1916 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Wang Jiantang in 1916 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1078, 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
Wang Jiantang (C.L. Freer source) late 19th-early 20th century


At lower right, a winter traveler, leading a pair of horses and followed by a servant carrying loaded shoulder poles, crosses a small bridge to a village way station. Supported on pilings along sheer vertical cliffs, a snow-covered road of wooden planks continues at left and then reappears higher and higher above the plunging abyss until reaching a gateway in a notch of the mountains at upper right. Groups of travelers ascent single file on this narrow perilous track, while high above, heavy covered wagons inch slowly along. A stand of oversize pine trees leads the viewer's eye up a twisting series of craggy rdiges to a thrusting central peak. The underlying geology of the central resembles the sinuous form of an enormous dragon with an immense misshapen head bellowing into the leaden winter sky. The monumental scroll bears a small, spurious signature of the Tang dynasty artist and poet Wang Wei, to whom numerous depictions of similar scenes are credited in early catalogues. In fact, though the composition may preserve cetain features of a lost work from the Northern Song (960-1127), the delicate brushwork on the trees and mountains is characteristic of a style that only became formally identifies with Wang Wei in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Published References
  • Osvald Siren. Studies of Chinese and European Painting. Point Loma, CA. opp. p. 70.
  • Otto Fischer. Chinesische Landschaftsmalerei., 3rd ed. Berlin and Vienna. pl. 38.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1 (1982 ed.): p. 189.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Paintings in American Collections. Annales du Musee Guimet. Bibliotheque d'art. Nouvelle serie. II Paris and Brussels, 1927-1928. pl. 143.
  • Ludwig Bachhofer. A Short History of Chinese Art. New York. pl. 98.
  • Frederick William Gookin. Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Ancient Chinese Paintings, Sculptures and Jade Objects from the Collection formed by Charles Lang Freer, and Given by Him to the Nation through the Smithsonian Institution, Exhibition November 15 to December 8, 1917. Exh. cat. Chicago, November 15 - December 8, 1917. cat. 12, opp. p. 22.
  • Sheldon Cheney. Expressionism in Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 174.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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