Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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元 倪瓚 虞山林壑圖 軸
Woods and Valleys of Mount Yu

Artist:
Ni Zan (Chinese, 1306–1374)
Period:
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Date:
dated 1372
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 37 1/4 x 14 1/8 in. (94.6 x 35.9 cm) Overall with mounting: 82 x 20 5/8 in. (208.3 x 52.4 cm) Overall with knobs: 82 x 24 5/8 in. (208.3 x 62.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973
Accession Number:
1973.120.8
Not on view
In 1366, Ni Zan abandoned his home to escape marauding soldiers. Even after the establishment of the Ming dynasty in 1368, Ni continued the life of a wanderer, visiting old haunts that he had not seen for twenty or thirty years. According to his epitaph writer, Zhou Nanlao (1308–1383), "in his late years, he became quieter and more withdrawn than ever. Having lost or given away everything he ever owned, he did his best to forget his worries. Wearing a yellow [Daoist] cap and country clothes, he roamed the lakes and mountains, leading a recluse's life."

Woods and Valleys of Mount Yu, executed two years before Ni Zan's death, expresses the painter's contentment in the life of a recluse. The poem ends with the lines:

We watch the clouds and daub with our brushes
We drink wine and write poems.
The joyous feelings of this day
Will linger long after we have parted.

The dry but tender brushwork is aloof and restrained. There is a tranquil luminous quality about the painting that makes it one of the most fully realized works of the artist's later years.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (6 columns in standard script)

Chen Fan (active mid-2nd c.) prepared a bed
Only when Xu Ru (active mid-2nd c.) came for a visit.
The water from the well in Yan You’s [Yan Yan, zi Ziyou, 506 B.C. –?] neighborhood
[in Changshu] is sweet and cool,
Whereas Yuzhong's [Ji Zhongyong, 12th c. B.C.] shrine [on Mount Yu] is desolate from neglect.
We watch the clouds and daub with our brushes;
We drink wine and write poems.
The joyous feelings of this day
Will linger long after we have parted.[1]
On the thirteenth of the twelfth lunar month of the xinhai year [January 19, 1372], I paid a visit to the lofty hermit Bowan and painted the Woods and Valleys of Mount Yu with a poem in five-character lines as a memento of this trip. Ni Zan

陳蕃懸榻處,徐孺過門時。
甘冽言游井,荒涼虞仲祠。
看雲聊弄翰,把酒更題詩。
此日交歡意,依依去後思。
辛亥十二月十三日訪伯琬高士,因寫《虞山林壑》并題五言,以紀來游。倪瓚

Other inscriptions

1. Xiang Yuanbian 項元汴 (1525–1590), inventory character:

Qi 豈

2. Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (1711–1799; r. 1736-95), 8 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1759; 2 seals:

把酒看雲事真逸,
志遊寫照興猶賒。
金閶白甫斯郊島,
秀削何妨自一家。
己卯春月御題。[印]: 幾暇臨池,乾隆宸翰

Collectors’ seals

Xiang Yuanbian 項元汴 (1525–1590)
Molin miwan 墨林秘玩
Xiang Zijing jia zhencang 項子京家珍藏
Xiang Yuanbian yin 項元汴印
Xiang Molin jianshang zhang 項墨林鑑賞章
Tui mi 退密
Zuili 檇李
Ruoshui Xuan 若水軒
Shenyou xinshang 神游心賞

Geng Zhaozhong 耿昭忠 (1640–1686)
Zhenmi 珍秘

An Qi 安岐 (1683–ca. 1746)
Yizhou jianshang 儀周鑑賞

Qing emperor Qianlong清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–95)
Shiqu baoji 石渠寶笈
Qianlong yulan zhi bao 乾隆御覽之寶
Qianlong jianshang 乾隆鑑賞
Chunhua Xuan 淳化軒
Chunhua Xuan tushu zhenmibao 淳化軒圖書珍秘寶
Qianlong chenhan 乾隆宸翰
Xintian Zhuren 信天主人
Sanxi Tang jingjian xi 三希堂精鑑璽
Yi zisun 宜子孫

Chen Kuilin 陳夔麟 (1855–1928)
Kuilin 夔麟

Xu An 徐安 (20th c.)
Xu An 徐安

Wang Jiqian 王季遷 (1907–2003)
Jiqian xinshang 季遷心賞

Tan Jing 譚敬 (1911–1991)
Tan Jing 譚敬

Zhang Heng 張珩 (1915–1961)
Xiyi 希逸

Unidentified:
Zisun baozhi 子孫保之

[1] Translation from Wen C. Fong, Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy 8th – 14th Century (New York, 1992), p. 490. Modified.
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