Image (a): 16 in. × 53 3/4 in. (40.6 × 136.5 cm)
Overall with mounting (a): 16 3/8 in. × 26 ft. 1/8 in. (41.6 × 792.8 cm)
Overall with mounting (b): 16 3/8 in. × 27 ft. 9 5/16 in. (41.6 × 846.6 cm)
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 210
In this imaginary depiction of his retirement retreat the scholar-official Li Jie presents an image of his future home in a self-consciously primitive manner. The archaic, maplike image—composed of frontal, schematically rendered mountains and trees, an archaic "blue-and-green" color scheme, an uptilted ground plane, and sticklike architecture—directly recalls an early paradigm of the scholarly retreat: the Wangchuan Villa of the Tang poet-painter Wang Wei (699–759).
Li Jie retired to Mount Xisai in 1184 after an illustrious official career but executed this work about 1170 in anticipation of his retirement, which did not occur until 1184. It was in 1170 that Li also began to solicit colophons to his painting from some of the leading figures of his day, including the statesman and poet Fan Chengda (1126–1193). The resulting combination of painting and poems forms a unique record of Southern Song scholarly collaboration in the creation of a pictorial and literary work that celebrates the ideal of retirement—a phenomenon that anticipates by nearly a century similar artistic collaborations among scholars living under the Mongol Yuan dynasty.
Inscription: No artist's inscription, signature, or seal
Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, undated:
Mark on front section
1 column in standard script in gold ink stamped on paper, undated:
Hall of Radiant Benevolence
1. Fan Chengda 范成大 (1126–1193), 32 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1185; 5 seals:
When I was an official in Shexian [in Anhui] I had already considered retiring. At that time, Cishan [Li Jie] held a position in Xiuning [in Anhui] and I heard from him quite often. Ten years later, I retired from the position of Secretarial Court Gentleman, returned home, and built a house by the Stone Lake [near Suzhou]. Cishan, who was then prefect of Kunshan [in Suzhou Prefecture], envied me so much that he also began thinking of preparing a retreat for himself on the Tiao and Zha Rivers [in Huzhou, Zhejiang]. Twenty years later, [Li Jie] finally brought this Fisherman’s Lodge scroll to show me. I have suffered from illness and exhaustion for so long that only during the last four or five years have I been able to spend my time enjoying the lake. Though I had beautiful surroundings, I could not really have my reclusion as Tao Yuanming [Tao Qian, 365–427] did. Although Cishan got his "Fisherman’s Lodge" later than I, he is healthy and is able to accompany his parents and enjoy the beautiful scenery. With parents to be attended and with a lot of children around--this makes for the happiest life. I am ten thousand times more envious of him than he once was of me. I hope my illness can be cured quickly. When the peach trees are in bloom and the streams are full, I’d like to sail to Xisai in a skiff. After asking the host to purchase fish and wine, we’ll set sail, chanting to the tune of Songxi and inviting fishing boys and young wood-gatherers to sing along. Having enjoyed ourselves to the full, we’ll return to the Wusong River and Lake Tai in a fresh breeze. With emerald waters reaching to the sky and raindrops knocking on the thatched awning, it will be a perfect time for an inebriated nap. If I can fulfill this dream, it will be something extraordinary. So I write this at the end of this handscroll, anticipating the real journey.
Written by the Recluse of Stone Lake on the fifteenth of the first lunar month of the yisi year in the Chunxi reign era [February 16, 1185]. [Seals]: Shunyang Fan shi, Shihu Jushi, Shouli Tang shu, Wujun hou yin, ?ju?long?wei yang du zhihou Fan shi shi wei xing jia