Clearing Skies over Mount Hua

Artist: Formerly attributed to Fan Kuan (傳)范寬 (ca. 960-ca. 1030)
Historical period(s)
Jin or Yuan dynasty, 13th-14th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W: 156 x 99.6 cm (61 7/16 x 39 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, Jin dynasty (1115 - 1234), landscape, mountain, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)

To 1919
You Xiaoxi (late 19th-early 20th century), Shanghai, to 1919 [1]

Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from You Xiaoxi in 1919 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1322, 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
You Xiaoxi (C.L. Freer source) late 19th-early 20th century


Located on the eastern end of the Qinling Range in Shaanxi Province, Mount Hua has been venerated since antiquity as one of the Five Sacred Mountains of China. Home to many Daoist temples and monasteries, it was also a favorite destination for poets and painters seeking direct inspiration from nature. Among those was Fan Kuan, a Shaanxi native and one the greatest early masters of monumental landscape painting. A man of strong Daoist inclinations, Fan Kuan is said to have lived for many years among these mountains spending whole days and nights absorbed in deep concentration while seeking to internalize the infinitely variable forms and features of the hills and their changing seasonal appearance. As an artist, Fan Kuan was attracted to the dramatic aspects of nature and intrigued by the tactile surfaces of things, such as rocks and trees, as well as by the underlying "bone structure" of massive geological forms.

With its strongly contoured mountains delineated in bold, powerful outlines, its harsh granite surfaces textured with distinctive dabs of ink known as "sesame seed" or "rain drop" dots, with its large rocks vigorously protruding from the edge of the foreground water, and its tiny human figures and precisely drawn houses and temples, this unsigned painting conforms in all particulars to the stylistic conventions of the Fan Kuan tradition and may preserve an earlier lost composition. It was probably created a few decades before 1340 when a Yuan dynasty viewer inscribed his name at lower left.


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

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: p. 248.
  • Wen C. Fong. Images of the Mind: Selections from the Edward L. Elliott Family and John B. Elliott Collections of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting at the Art Museum, Princeton University. Exh. cat. Pinceton. p. 63.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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