元 佚名 釋迦三尊圖 軸 Sakyamuni and Attendant Bodhisattvas in a Landscape
Unidentified Artist Chinese
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
late 13th–early 14th century
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 38 x 19 1/4 in. (96.5 x 48.9 cm)
Overall with mounting: 78 x 24 5/8 in. (198.1 x 62.5 cm)
Overall with knobs: 78 x 26 5/8 in. (198.1 x 67.6 cm)
Purchase, Douglas Dillon Gift, 1987
Not on view
This painting stands midway between the hieratic icons employed in formal temple ceremonies and the informal images that served Chan (or Zen) monks as personal devotional images for use in meditation. The intimate scale, informality of the figures' poses, and landscape setting link the painting to Chan-style depictions of Shakyamuni—the human origin of the Buddha—as an ascetic descending from the mountains just prior to achieving Buddhahood. In this scene, the Buddhist equivalent of Christ's Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Shakyamuni offers a parallel to the Chan practitioner's search for individual enlightenment.
Landscape elements in the painting follow the meticulously descriptive style of the Southern Song Painting Academy. The angular contours of the figures' fluttering drapery lines are flat and conventionalized, however, and suggest an early fourteenth-century date for the piece.
Inscription: No artist’s inscription, signature, or seal