Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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清 倣髡殘 蒸嵐昏巒圖 軸
Wooded Mountains at Dusk

Artist:
Kuncan (Chinese, 1612–1673)
Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
dated 1666
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 49 1/2 x 24 in. (125.7 x 61 cm) Overall with mounting: 101 1/4 x 31 5/8 in. (257.2 x 80.3 cm) Overall with knobs: 101 1/4 x 34 3/4 in. (257.2 x 88.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
1989.363.129
Not on view
Born on the Buddha's birthday, Kuncan took Buddhist monastic vows at age twenty-six and became an ardent Chan (Zen) follower. After the establishment of the Qing dynasty, he lived in Nanjing, where his friends included poet-painters who considered themselves loyal "leftover subjects" of the vanquished Ming dynasty. In 1659 he visited Yellow Mountain in southern Anhui Province and, inspired by the beauty of the site, decided to devote himself to painting. For Kuncan, painting was a path to the self, and he brought to his art the importance of selfhood espoused by later Chan practitioners.

Kuncan's landscapes, painted in the densely textured style of the Yuan master Wang Meng (ca. 1308–1385), are often accompanied by inscriptions that describe a physical, as well as spiritual, mountain journey. In Wooded Mountains at Dusk the artist depicts himself as a wandering pilgrim seated beneath a natural rock bridge:

I want to go farther,
But my legs are bruised and scratched.
The bony rocks appear chiseled,
The pines look as if they had been dyed.
Sitting down, I feel like a small bird,
As I look out at the crowd of peaks gathered before me.
Having ascended the heights to the brink of the abyss,
I hold fast and ponder the need to sincerely face criticism.
Wherever a road ends, I will set myself down,
Wherever a source opens, I will build a temple.
All this suffices to nourish my eyes,
And rest my feet.

(Yangming Chu and Maxwell K. Hearn, trans.)
Signature: Signed on the painting by Kuncan (upper left corner); dated 1666, four artist's seals:

"I want to go farther,
But my legs are bruised and scratched.
The bony rocks appear chiseled,
The pines look as if they had been dyed.
Sitting down, I feel like a small bird,
As I look out at the crowd of peaks gathered before me.
Having ascended the heights to the brink of the abyss,
I hold fast and ponder the need to sincerely face criticism.
Wherever a road ends, I will set myself down,
Wherever a source opens, I will build a temple.
All this suffices to nourish my eyes,
And rest my feet."

Inscription: I gaze at the hills and valleys
As the quiet moon hangs over the precipice.
Crisp air and rising mists
I will not shut the door against them.
Suddenly startled, I reach for my staff
And leap up as if from a dream.
[illegible] old gibbon cry,
I get up and stare into the light.
All day I travel along the paths made by gibbons
Excited by hidden and perilous sites.
Distant mountain peaks and nearby cliffs
Are arranged in their heavenly order.
The sky appears magnificent,
As floating greenery caresses my face.
The sun descends as if drawing nearer to me,
Decorating the sky with its utmost beauty.
I want to go for further,
But my legs are bruised and scratched.
The bony rocks appear chiseled,
The pines look as if they had been dyed.
Sitting down, I feel like a small bird,
As I look out at the crowd of peaks gathered before me.
Having ascended the heights to the brink of the abyss,
I hold fast and ponder the need to sincerely face criticism.
[One should sincerely face remonstrance and criticism.]
Wherever a road ends, I will set myself down,
Wherever a source opens, I will build a temple.
All this suffices to nourish my eyes,
As well as to rest my feet.
So with a piece of rattan paper from [Shan]xi [Zhejiang],
I paint this scene which is infused with qi.

In the first ten days of the eighth lunar month, in the autumn of the bingwu year [August 30-September 8, 1666], at the time when my two friends from the Eastern Field Poetry Society (Dongtian ci meng) came to my Double Tree Studio (Shuangshu Xuan) on an impulse. They took some paper from their sleeves and asked for a painting; I did this with pleasure in response to their request.
Youqi dianzhu, Shiqi, Candaoren recorded this.

[Yangming Chu & MKH translation]

凝出丘壑姿,
巖額懸月默。
爽氣與蒸嵐,
不將洞門掩。
驚昏忽策杖,
跳躑成夢想。
? ? 老猿啼,
起視光睽睽。
鎮日猿徑行,
發興在幽險。
遙巒與近巘,
後先共天儼。
瑰情出天表,
飛翠撲人臉。
日腳欲近人,
梳雲生絕艷。
吾欲即往之,
決股瘵拘遍。
撿石骨如削,
有松髮如染。
身坐如小鳥,
群峰忽然斂。
登高而臨深,
拳拳當諫貶。
路窮剛置我,
源開輒架厂。
即足供吾目,
又足息吾趼。
一幅溪藤紙,
寫此氣冉冉。

丙子秋八月上浣值東田詞盟兩弟乘興過余雙樹軒,袖出楮索畫,欣應此。幽栖電住石溪殘道人記事。

Marking: Collectors' seals:
John M. Crawford, Jr.
Unidentified, 2 seals
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