Landscape in the style of Wang Meng

Artist: Shen Zhou 沈周 (1427-1509)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1491
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 121.2 x 60.2 cm (47 11/16 x 23 11/16 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)

bridge, China, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), mountain, river, scholar, spring, waterfall
Provenance research underway.

During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), garden building was in ascendance, and the painter Shen Zhou often created works showing himself and his contemporaries in garden settings. Here he has revived an earlier style of painting associated with Wang Meng (ca. 1308-1385), whose wiry brushwork is featured in this scroll. In reaction to the political tensions of his era, Wang Meng often painted rustic mountain gardens that were symbols of a safe retreat for scholars from from the center of government. 

Shen Zhou lived in a more politically stable era than Wang Meng. Urban gardens had become common, but Shen enjoyed the romantic notion of a secluded garden dwelling. Although the tall mountains behind the garden in this painting suggest a natural landscape, the garden owner consciously shaped his property. The large, pierced boulder from Lake Tai that stands like a sculpture beside the foreground open-air kiosk was no doubt imported into the garden at great expense.

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: p. 256.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. vol. 6: pl. 176.
  • Tanaka Kenro, Omura Seigai. Chugoku meigashu [Collection of Famous Chinese Paintings]. 8 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2.
  • Instituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente. Mostra di pitture cinesi delle dinastie Ming e Ch'ing. Exh. cat. Rome. cat. 8.
  • Mary S. Lawton. Hsieh Shih-ch'en: A Ming Dynasty Painter Reinterprets the Past. Exh. cat. Chicago. fig. 13.
  • Junyi Fang. Meng yuan shu hua lu. 24 vols., Dingyuan. vol. 9: pp. 21a-b.
  • Richard Edwards. The Field of Stones: A Study of the Art of Shen Chou (1427-1509). Oriental Studies Series, no. 5 Washington, 1962. cat. 35, p. 101, pl. 33 A.
  • 17th-Century Chinese Paintings: From the Tsao Family Collection. Los Angeles, California. p. 161, fig. 49.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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