Image: 36 1/4 x 12 1/2 in. (92.1 x 31.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 79 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. (201.9 x 47 cm)
Overall with knobs: 79 1/2 x 20 7/8 in. (201.9 x 53 cm)
Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1980
Not on view
A poet, calligrapher, and painter known as one of the Ten Friends of the North Wall, Zhang Yu lived in the Suzhou area before the end of the Yuan dynasty. He accepted an appointment in 1371 to serve the Ming, but despite the loyal services he performed his earlier friendships made him suspect in the eyes of the Ming founder, Zhu Yuanzhang (r. 1368–98), and he was eventually driven to suicide. This landscape, painted two years before the founding of the Ming dynasty, shows the artist in the peaceful state of mind of the recluse. In late Yuan painting the depiction of a thatched studio by a stream became popular as a symbol of the scholar's condition—a life in reclusion. Zhang Yu's poetic sensibility is expressed through the subtle use of ink wash and pale colors and in the suggestion of dense moisture-laden clouds dissipating after a spring shower. The descriptive realism of the work relates the painter to the more conservative styles of the early Yuan period; the horizontal black and blue-green "Mi" dots may have been inspired by Spring Mountains and Pines (National Palace Museum, Taipei), attributed to Mi Fu (1052–1107).
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (2 columns in seal script)
On the tenth day of the third lunar month in the bingwu year of the Zhizheng reign era [April 20, 1366] Zhang Yu painted Spring Clouds at the Pine Studio.
1. Wu Gui吳珪 (late 14th c.), 3 columns in standard script, undated; 2 seals:
Master Zhang [Yu], an elegant and tasteful man, Painted wonders with delicate brushwork in his Pine Studio. Poetry often evokes painting, But how is it compared with the poetry evoked by painting? Inscribed by Wu Gui [Seals]: Wu Gui, Zhixing
Gorgeous gilt pavilions reach the clouds; Spring pines outside the studio brim over with green. The human world certainly has no realms like this; It must be somewhere I visited in my precious life. Inscribed by the Emperor on New Year’s Day of the jiashen year [February 2, 1764]. [Seals]: Ji xia yiqing, Qianlong chenhan