Hostelry in the Mountains

Artist: Yan Ciyu 閻次于 (active 1160s-1180s)
Historical period(s)
Southern Song dynasty, mid- to late 12th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 25.5 x 25.9 cm (10 1/16 x 10 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

China, landscape, Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279)
Provenance research underway.

Typical of many Southern Song landscapes, much of the silk in this album leaf is empty while the painted area is concentrated in one corner. This compositional practice reflects the prevailing philosophical concept derived in part from Chan, or Zen, Buddhism that substance emerges from emptiness. The stylistic emphasis on subtle atmospheric effects reinforces this meditative mood. The artist Yan Ciyu and his more famous older brother Ciping presented examples of their painting to Emperor Xiaozong (reigned 1163-90) soon after he ascended the throne. Both brothers were awarded positions in the imperial painting academy and went on to illustrious careers. The small painting, signed on the rocks at lower right, is the only genuine work by Yan Ciyu known to survive.

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. .
  • Mary M. Mcdonald. It Draws Me: The Art of Contemplation. .
  • Sze Mai-Mai. The Tao of Painting: A Study for the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting. Bollingen Series, no. 49 2 vols., New York. pl. 1.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1 (1982 ed.): p. 238.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga shi. 8 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1988. vol. 2, pl. 88.
  • Suiboku bijutsu taikei. 17 vols., Tokyo, 1973-1977. vol. 2: pl. 50.
  • Smithsonian Institution. Report of the Secretary, 1935. Washington, 1935-1936. pl. 2.
  • Smithsonian Institution. Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, 1935. Washington, 1935-1936. appendix 3, pl. 2.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. vol. 2, p. 90, vol. 3, pl. 265.
  • New Orient Society of America. Oriental Art in America: Recent Accessions in American Museums. Chicago. pl. 19.
  • Thomas Lawton. Notes on Keng Chao-chung. no. 6 Hong Kong, Spring 1976. pl. 90.
  • Laura S. Kaufman. Ippen hijiri-e: Artistic and Literary Sources in a Buddhist Handscroll Painting of Thirteenth Century Japan. Ann Arbor. fig. 179.
  • Hsieh Chih-liu. T'ang wu Tsi Sung Yuan ming chi [Noted Paintings of the T'ang, Five Dynasties, Sung and Yuan periods]. Shanghai. pl. 82.
  • Hai wai i chen [Chinese Art in Overseas Collections]. Taipei, 1985. vol. 1, no. 46.
  • Song Dynasty Paintings Project. multi-volumed, . .
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 39, vol. 1: p. 158.
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 13.
  • James Cahill. Chinese Album Leaves in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Japan, 1961-1962. p. 21, pl. 5.
  • Richard Edwards. The Artist and the Landscape: Changing Views of Nature in Chinese Painting. no. 6 Hong Kong, Spring 1976. pp. 30-52, pl. 24.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 48.
  • Richard Edwards. The Yen Family and the Influence of Li T'ang. vol. 10 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 86-89, pl. 4, fig. 4.
  • Guy Crosby. Cook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking. New York. p. 138, fig. 7.1.
  • Beba Restelli. "Giocare con la natura. A lezione da Bruno Munari." Playing with nature. A lesson from Bruno Munari. Milan, Italy. p. 210.
  • Richard Edwards. The Heart of Ma Yuan: The Search for a Southern Song Aesthetic. Hong Kong. p. 220, fig. 7.12.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
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