The Southern Journey

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Artist: Tang Yin 唐寅 (1470-1524)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1505
Ink on paper
H x W (painting): 24.3 x 89.3 cm (9 9/16 x 35 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


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

Renowned as a painter, poet and calligrapher, Tang Yin was one of the greatest artists of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Despite scandal and disappointment in his official career, he was befriended by both the scholarly and monied elite of his native Suzhou and through their patronage made a successful living by his art.

This painting is one section of a long handscroll created by a group of friends in the spring of 1505 for Yang Jijing (ca. 1477-after 1530), a master performer of ancient music on the qin (zither or lute). In addition to the painting and two poems by Tang Yin, the scroll contains written contributions by ten other men, most of whom were well-established figures in the city of Suzhou, a major cultural center located near Lake Tai in Jiangsu Province. The scroll begins at right with a frontispiece written in seal script by the calligrapher Wu Yi (1472-1519), who supplied a title for the work, Journey to the South (or Journeying South). The scroll was probably intended both as a farewell gift and as a kind of letter of introduction for Yang Jijing on the occasion of his departure from Suzhou for the southern imperial capital at Nanjing, where he was unknown to society but hoped to secure an offical appointment. At the right, the young musician is seen departing mounted on a donkey and followed by a servant bearing a rolled umbrella over one shoulder and his master's wrapped qin slung across his back.

Tang's two poems beside the painting may be translated:

On the river, springtime breezes blow the tender elms,
I clasp my lute and see you off, trailing long robes.
If someone you encounter should appreciate your music,
Cut some reeds where you are and make yourself a hut.

Xi Kang long ago played the Melody of Guangling.
Silent a thousand years, its tonalities are lost.
Today I've traveled to this place to see you off,
That we may seek for its notes from the handbook.

Translation by Stephen D. Allee

Published References
  • Anne de Coursey Clapp. Commemorative Landscape Painting in China. .
  • Laurence Sickman, Jean-Pierre Dubosc. Great Chinese Painters of the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, XV to XVIII Centuries: A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Asia Institute, March 11 to April 2, 1949. Exh. cat. New York. cat. 19.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: pp. 214-215.
  • Laurence Sickman, Alexander Coburn Soper. The Art and Architecture of China. The Pelican History of Art London and Baltimore. pl. 137b.
  • Anne de Coursey Clapp. The Painting of T'ang Yin. Chicago. figs. 9, 71-77.
  • Chugoku bijutsu [Chinese Art in Western Collections]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. vol. 2: pl. 13.
  • Chiang Chao-shen. Yang Chi-ching and the Wu School of Painters. vol. 8, no. 3 Taipei. pl. 1.
  • Chiang Chao-shen. T'ang Yin's Calligraphy and Painting. vol. 3, no. 3 Taipei, July 1968/January 1969. pl. 10.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 50, vol. 1: pp. 161-3.
  • James C.Y. Watt. The Qin and the Chinese Literati. vol. 12, no. 11 Hong Kong, November 1981. pp. 38-49.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 54.
  • Mrs. Hin-cheung Lovell. A Question of Choice, a Matter of Rendition. no. 6 Hong Kong, Spring 1976. pp. 63-69, pl. 48.
  • Chiang Chao-ming. Kuan yu T'ang Yin ti yen chiu. Taipei. p. 103.
  • Hsiao-hu Hsu. Hua yu lu, 10: T'ang Yin. no. 23, February 1985. p. 134.
  • "明画全集." Complete works of Ming Dynasty. vol. 6, Hangzhou, China. pp. 148-157, fig. 19.
  • Thomas Lawton. Notes on Five Paintings from a Ch'ing Dynasty Collection. vol. 8 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 192-210, fig. 9.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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