Two Riders Searching for Plum Blossoms

Artist: Formerly attributed to Xia Gui 夏珪 (active ca. 1195-1230)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 16th century
Zhe School
Hanging scroll mounted on panel; ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 136.7 x 71.3 cm (53 13/16 x 28 1/16 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, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), mountain, winter

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. 1336, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[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


This chilly winter scene focuses on a pair of riders and their servants traveling up a mountain trail, where they have come upon a blossoming plum tree. A huge, almost cylindrical rock leans above them, while the looming spires of distant snow-covered peaks project above the group of large buildings, perhaps a temple complex, that might have been their starting place. In paintings such as this, it is difficult to know if the travelers have set out intentionally to find plum blossoms or have simply encountered them along the road.

This unsigned work is a typical example of Zhe School painting, which flourished during the early to mid-Ming dynasty (1368-1644) in the area of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, the former imperial capital of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). With the Zhe School revival of Song styles in the early Ming dynasty, monumental ink-landscape paintings with heavily contoured and sculpted mountain forms became more common, while the expressive possibilities of brushwork and the evocation of mood generally took precedence over the technical niceties of execution. In the present painting, the main trunk of the plum tree has been trimmed along the right edge, leaving only a few limbs and twigs to whet the viewer's imagination.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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