Art/ Collection/ Art Object

明 董其昌 荊谿招隱圖 卷
Invitation to Reclusion at Jingxi

Dong Qichang (Chinese, 1555–1636)
Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)
dated 1611
Handscroll; ink on paper
Image: 10 1/4 × 36 7/16 in. (26 × 92.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wan-go H. C. Weng, 1990
Accession Number:
Not on view
In this short handscroll, the artist-theorist Dong Qichang turns landscape forms into calligraphic abstractions. In the right half of the scroll, interlocking wedge-shaped masses create the illusion of a logical spatial recession. In the second half of the painting, logic is abandoned: ground planes shift, changes in scale are capricious, frequent contrasts between light and dark ink deny the blurring effects of atmosphere, and the illusion of recession is confounded by flat patterns of brushwork and patches of blank paper that continually assert the two-dimensionality of the picture surface.

As the painting's title suggests, the scroll invites the viewer on a journey that leads not only from illusionism to abstraction but from the external world of appearances to the inner world of the recluse's mind. In so doing, it visualizes the disparate worlds between which both the artist and the scroll's recipient, Dong's longtime friend Wu Zhengzhi (d. ca. 1619), must choose. In a long colophon inscribed after the painting, Dong praises Wu, who, like himself, chose to withdraw from government service to live in retirement:

I am like clouds returning to the mountain,
You are like the rising sun.
To go forth [and serve] or abide at home,
Either is appropriate.
Why must one live [in isolation like] the crane and gibbon?
Only those who shun this world,
Can live out their days in the Peach Blossom Spring [an idyllic community of hermits celebrated in poetry by Tao Qian (365–427)].
Inscription: Artist's inscriptions and signatures

(3 columns in semi-cursive script, Dated 1611)

Invitation to Reclusion at Jingxi, painted on the Day of Man [seventh day of the first month] in the xinnhai year [1611] by Dong Xuanzai [Dong Qichang] at the Baoding Studio.


(21 columns in semi-cursive script, Dated 1613)


Artist’s seals


Label strip

Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, undated:

董其昌 《荊溪招隱》


1. Wu Zhengzhi 吳正志 (d. ca. 1619), 17 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1617; 2 seals:

余識玄宰在未第前,時玄宰才名譟甚。後同舉進士,群輩競為考館逐鹿,即玄宰臚唱第一,幾為捷足所先,余遜不就試,又以狂言謫塞外,玄宰由此見知。不十年,玄宰亦以史官外補。自泖上至荊谿,幾六百里,扁舟過從,音問不絕。曾乞畫,玄宰雖心諾而未踐也。戊申[1608]復以戇直為權門要人陳治則所逐。光祿之席未煖,黜為湖州司李。玄宰故見惡斯人者,不覺同病相憐,訪余雲起樓頭,貽以二卷一畫。既各移藩臬,忌玄宰者,未容出山,余雖為小草,亦望望然,從彭蠡拂衣而歸,此圖遂成先讖矣。今而後,山中日月正長,白首兄弟載書畫船,問字往還,誓不為弋者所慕,又豈待招而後隱哉?丁巳夏至日長蟄散人吳正志識。 [印]: 吳正志印、吳之矩

2. Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), 10 columns in standard script, dated 1877; 1 seal:

沈景倩[德潛] 《野獲編》 載:僧慧秀,能詩,為吳澈如比部所厚,築庵陽羡以居。之後澈如轉江右兵使,慧秀竟棄瓢笠稱山人。未幾慧秀死,而澈如之長君洪亮以勸誘慧秀還俗,犯佛戒,故遭冥譴。其事甚怪,殆不足論。余嘗見 《宜興志》,知澈如為吳中名宿,家世最盛,其雲起樓至今尚在也。丁丑二月同龢漫記。 [印]: 翁同龢印

Collectors' seals

Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904)

Weng Wan’ge 翁萬戈 (Wan-go Weng, born 1918)

Kansas City. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "The Century of Dong Qichang," April 19, 1992–June 14, 1992.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "The Century of Dong Qichang," July 6, 1992–September 20, 1992.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Century of Dong Qichang," October 15, 1992–January 3, 1993.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Traditional Scholarly Values at the End of the Qing Dynasty: The Collection of Weng Tonghe (1830–1904)," June 30, 1998–January 3, 1999.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Millennium of Chinese Painting: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," September 8, 2001–January 13, 2002.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Painting, Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," August 28, 2004–February 20, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632–1717)," September 9, 2008–January 4, 2009.

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