White Clouds on the Xiao-Xiang River, after Zhao Mengfu

Artist: Wang Jian (1598-1677)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1668
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 136.1 x 63.2 cm (53 9/16 x 24 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, landscape, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), river
Provenance research underway.

The river and mountains depicted here are located in southern Hunan Province, a favorite region of poets and painters because of it many literary and historical associations. At center, high atop a bluff overlooking the cloud-covered river, stands a simple, empty pavillion, a poignant reminder of the Chinese scholar-artist's constant yearning for a secure retreat from the world.

Born to a prominent family, the artist Wang Jian inherited a large collections of old paintings that allowed him to study and copy many important works by past masters. Along with his friend Wang Shimin, three of whose works are exhibited at right, Wang Jian sought to establish a new orthodoxy in Chinese painting through the rigorous emulation of masters from the Song and Yuan dynasties (tenth to fourteenth centuries). He was a leader of the group later known as the Six Orthodox Masters of the Early Qing.

Wang Jian was particulary drawn to the landscape style of two tenth-century artists, Dong Yuan and Juran, and their later followers. In his inscription, Wang explains that his immediate inspiration for this painting was a work by Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), a highly influential artist of the Yuan dynasty who he notes was thoroughly steeped in the style of Dong Yuan. In this painting, the influence of Dong Yuan's style is most clearly evident in the modeling of the sloped and rocks and the archaic stylization of the swirling clouds.

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: p. 249.
  • Mark Getlein. Gilbert's Living with Art., 7th ed. Boston. Fig. 3.29.
  • Mark Getlein. Living With Art., 9th ed. New York. p. 69, fig. 3.23.
  • Kathleen Yang. Through a Chinese Connoisseur's Eye: Private Notes of C.C. Wang. Beijing. p.338, fig.117.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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