Image: 53 3/4 x 17 5/8 in. (136.5 x 44.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 101 1/4 x 24 3/4 in. (257.2 x 62.9 cm)
Overall with knobs: 101 1/4 x 28 11/16 in. (257.2 x 72.9 cm)
Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of Oscar L. Tang Family, 2012
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 213
Wang Meng depicted scholars in their retreats, creating imaginary portraits that capture not the physical likeness of a person or place but rather an interior world of shared associations and ideals. He presented the master of Simple Retreat as a gentleman recluse. Seated at the front gate of a rustic hermitage, he is shown holding a magic fungus, as a servant and two deer approach from the woods. In the courtyard, another servant offers a sprig of herbs to a crane. The auspicious Daoist imagery of fungus, crane, and deer as well as the archaic simplicity of the figures and dwelling evokes a dreamlike vision of paradise.
In creating this visionary world, Wang transformed the monumental landscape imagery of the tenth-century master Dong Yuan. Rocks and trees, animated with fluttering texture strokes, dots, color washes, and daubs of bright mineral pigment, pulse with a calligraphic energy barely contained within the traditional landscape structure. Encircled by this energized mountainscape, the retreat becomes a reservoir of calm at the vortex of a world whose dynamic configurations embody nature's creative potential but may also suggest the ever-shifting terrain of political power.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (1 column in seal script, 2 columns in standard script)
Simple Retreat The Woodcutter of the Yellow Crane Mountain, Wang Meng, painted this for the lofty scholar of the Simple Retreat. 《素庵圖》 黃鶴山樵王蒙為素庵高士畫。
Wang Meng yin 王蒙印
Unidentified artist, 1 column in semi-cursive script, undated:
The Mountain Woodcutter’s [Wang Meng's] Simple Retreat, on paper, a supreme work of the divine class. Recorded by Boheng. 山樵 《素庵圖》 軸，紙本，無上神品。 伯珩記。
Luo Feng 羅鳳 (1465–after 1536) Yingang Luo Feng tuji 印岡羅鳳圖籍
He Liangjun 何良俊 (1506–1573) Qingsen Ge shuhua yin 清森閣書畫印 He shi Yuanlang 何氏元朗