Landscape in the Style of Li Tang

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Artist: Qiu Ying 仇英 (ca. 1494-1552)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, mid-16th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 25.4 x 306.7 cm (10 x 120 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, garden, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), travel
Provenance research underway.

This handscroll by Qiu Ying, one of the four masters of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), bears the red seal marks of many previous owners, including Xiang Yuanbian (1525-1590), the artist's major patron.  A professional artist, Qiu Ying was renowned for his unusual ability to paint in both an academic, highly refined style and in a more scholarly, calligraphic mode.  Here, Qiu Ying created his own mixture of styles, while also basing his work on the antique model of of the Song dynasty painter Li Tang (circa 1070s - ca. 1150s).  The painting is a panoramic landscape filled with public and private buildings, including business establishments and residences.

One of the most eye-catching structures is a typical Ming dynasty scholar's garden located to the left of a small wooden bridge, which a scholar crosses on his way from visiting the garden proprietor.  The property is surrounded by a wall, a quintessential feature of Chinese garden architecture; bamboo, drawn in ink and colored with blue wash, grows inside the courtyard.  Chinese scholars referred to bamboo as a "gentleman" and symbol of moral integrity, since its stalks always return upright, even after bending in a violent wind.

Beyond the scholar's garden (to the left), Qiu Ying depicted a tavern, with customers inside eating a meal.  Farther to the left, a second garden is depicted with two scholars sitting on a terrace overlooking water.  The red lacquer table visible inside one pavillion suggests the fine furnishings that most Ming garden owners enjoyed; its portrayal here is unusual, as many Ming artists downplayed the luxury of garden villas.

Best known for his precise, jewel-like landscapes, here Qiu Ying mostly used free, lively brushwork and soft colors.  Later collectors who admired this painting noted the rarity of seeing a landscape by Qiu Ying with such a spontaneous style of brushwork.

Published References
  • Where the Truth Lies: The Art of Qiu Ying. Exh. cat. Los Angeles and Munich, Germany. cat. 27, pg. 75, fig. 13.
  • S. Wilkinson. Lu Chih's Views on Landscape. vol. 15, no. 1 London, Spring 1969. fig. 8.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1 (1982 ed.): pp. 204-205.
  • Frederick Horowitz. More Than You See: A Guide to Art., 2nd ed. Fort Worth, TX and London. .
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 54, vol. 1: p. 163.
  • Stephen Little. The Demon Queller and the Art of Qiu Ying (Ch'iu Ying). vol. 46, no. 1/2 Washington and Zurich. pp. 5-80, fig. 57.
  • Pang Yuanji. Hsu chai ming hua lu: Catalogue of Chinese Paintings in the Collection of the Author. Shanghai. p. 10.
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 17.
  • Richard Edwards. The Landscape Art of Li T'ang. vol. 12 Honolulu. pp. 56, 58, fig. 15.
  • James Cahill. Collecting Paintings in China. vol. 37, April 1963. p. 68.
  • James Cahill. Chinese Painting. Treasures of Asia Geneva and Cleveland. p. 146.
  • Charles Patrick Fitzgerald. The Horizon History of China. New York. pp. 304-305.
  • 17th-Century Chinese Paintings: From the Tsao Family Collection. Los Angeles, California. p. 478, fig. 90.1.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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