Scholar’s Dwelling in the Mountains

Artist: Formerly attributed to Ma Yuan 馬遠 (active late 12th-early 13th century)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, ca. 1500
Zhe School
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 134 x 74 cm (52 3/4 x 29 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

attendant, China, landscape, man, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), mountain, pavilion, pine tree, plum blossom

To about 1914
Pang Yuanji (1864-1949), Shanghai [1]

From about 1914 to 1915
Yamanaka and Company, New York, purchased from Pang Yuanji [2]

From 1915 to 1968
Eugene Meyer (1875-1959) and Agnes E. Meyer (1887-1970), New York, NY, Washington, DC, and Mt. Kisco, NY, purchased from Yamanaka and Company in June 1915 [3]

From 1968
Freer Gallery of Art, given by Agnes E. Meyer in 1968 [4]


[1] See letter from Agnes E. Meyer to Charles Freer, June 14, 1915, Agnes E. Meyer Papers, Library of Congress, copy in file.

[2] See letter from Agnes E. Meyer to Charles Freer, cited in note 1.

[3] See letter from Agnes E. Meyer to Charles Freer, cited in note 1. In the letter, Agnes Meyer stated that she and her husband, Eugene Meyer, bought the painting, at the time attributed to Ma Yuan, from Ushikubo Daijiro of Yamanka and Company, who in turned had purchased it from Pang Yuanji’s collection in 1914.

[4] See Agnes E. Meyer’s Deed of Gift, dated July 24, 1967, where the painting is listed as no. 27 in the document’s Annex, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Pang Yuanji 1864-1949
Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer (1875-1959) and (1887-1970)
Yamanaka and Co. 1917-1965


In the Ming dynasty (1369-1644) court officials, private scholars, and merchants frequently commissioned paintings of gardens to hang in the palace and their private residences. Scholar's Dwelling in the Mountains is conservative in style and follows the manner of Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) academy artists. Because the Song dynasty was considered a cultural high point, professional painters active in the Ming dynasty often returned to this style to suggest that the achievements of their day were analogous to the glory of the Song dynasty.

The scene illustrates an elegant garden villa surrounded by a whitewashed wall; plum trees, a symbol of scholarly purity, have been planted in the compound. Chinese garden owners usually give rocks the greatest prominence in their gardens, but flowers were also important and have captivated the interest of this proprietor. Here, flowers climb a trellis and potted plants decorate the courtyard, reflecting a Chinese custom to display flowers in containers rather than planted in beds.

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: p. 253.
  • Thomas Lawton. Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 24, pp. 54-55.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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