Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

清 蕭雲從 山水圖 冊
Landscapes

Artist:
Xiao Yuncong (Chinese, 1596–1673)
Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
dated 1668
Culture:
China
Medium:
Album of eight paintings; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
Each leaf: 9 1/8 x 6 3/4 in. (23.2 x 17.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, in memory of Douglas Dillon, 2003
Accession Number:
2003.394a–i
Not on view
Xiao Yuncong was born into a gentry family in the town of Wuhu, Anhui Province, but for most of his career he resided in Nanjing, only fifty-five miles downriver. Between 1636 and 1642 Xiao and his two younger brothers prepared for the provincial-level civil-service examinations in Nanjing, where they also became political activists, joining the Fushe “Revival Society,” which sought to revive antique moral standards as a remedy for government factionalism and corruption. The fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644 ended Xiao’s government ambitions. Unwilling to serve under the Manchus, Xiao supported himself as a painter.

The present album, executed when Xiao was seventy-two, exemplifies his painterly abilities at their peak. Xiao expertly applied delicate colored washes and monochrome texturing to model landscape forms and suggest the veiling effects of atmosphere. Although Xiao’s images allude to antique models of the Song and Yuan dynasties, these gemlike miniatures recall nothing so much as the lyrical representations of landscape created by the contemporary professional masters of Nanjing.

Artist's inscription:

In his inscription, Xiao rejects the emphasis on abstract expressive brushwork championed by Yuan dynasty (1279–1368) scholar-artists in favor of the “old methods,” by which he presumably means the more descriptive techniques of the Song dynasty (960–1279) masters.

When the ancients made paintings, they were not afraid of being extremely meticulous. I once saw Mojie’s [Wang Wei, 699–759] Wangchuan Villa; it was so intricately done that it looked as if it had been engraved. From Yuan times on, artists have emphasized [the expressive qualities of] spirit resonance and plain sparseness, and the archaic methods were gradually eclipsed. The brushwork of these eight small scenes is slight and scattered. If it had been more coherent, then [these paintings] would not lack the impact of “a thousand miles [of scenery] in a few inches [of paper].”

Cangya, fellowship leader and colleague, has a profound grasp of the Six Methods [of painting] and will certainly understand these words.

In the fifth lunar month, the summer of the wushen year [June 9–July 8, 1668], XiaoYuncong
Signature: Signed on the painting by Xiao Yuncong (in the upper left corner of the final album leaf):
When the ancients made paintings, they were not afraid of being extremely meticulous. I once saw Mojie's [Wang Wei's (699-759)] Wangchuan Villa; it was so intricately done that it looked as if it had been engraved. From Yuan times on, artists have emphasized [the expressive qualities of] spirit resonance and plain sparseness, and the archaic methods were gradually eclipsed. The brushwork of these eight small scenes is slight and scattered. If it had been more coherent, then [these paintings] would not lack the impact of "a thousand miles [of scenery] in a few inches [of paper]."
Cangya, fellowship leader and colleague, has a profound grasp of the Six Methods [of painting] and will certainly understand these words.
In the fifth lunar month, the summer of the wushen year (June 9-July 8, 1668), XiaoYuncong
(translation by Yangming Chu and Maxwell K. Hearn)

Artist Seals (upper left corner):
Chimu ("one-foot tree," the artist's sobriquet)
Yuncong

Inscription: Colophon, inscribed by He Weipu:
Wumeng Daoren's [Xiao Yuncong's] paintings are rarely seen today. In general, he followed Song dynasty methods and was not willing to slavishly imitate the Yuan masters. He sedulously strived for perfection and ultimately achieved his own style. His creative uniqueness is not something ordinary painters can hope to match. Yet Ruan Wenda [Ruan Yuan, 1764-1849] in his Notes on the Imperial Painting Collection (Shiqu Suibi) stated that "Although Chimu's [Xiao Yuncong's] numerous landscape handscrolls all possess extremely accomplished brush and ink, one always feels that they are dry and stiff and fail to leave a lasting impression . . . and while his Autumn Mountain and Red Trees is a bit more moist, its compositional structure lacks coherence." But Daoren's [Xiao's] Five Sacred Peaks on the four walls of the Taibai Pavilion at Caishi are certainly not something that an artist whose brush and ink are dry and stiff would be capable of. This album is so exceptionally fine and extremely elegant that it is very close to [the style of] Hengshan [Wen Zhengming, 1470-1559]. It is a masterful work of Xiao's maturity and should be cherished.
Inscribed at the request of my benevolent elder brother, Master Mingxun, late in the tenth lunar month of the yimao year (late November, 1915), He Weipu of Yingdao [Hunan Province], having viewed this at Shenjiang [Shanghai].
(translation by Yangming Chu and Maxwell K. Hearn)

Two seals (at end of Colophon):
Weipu's seal's: He Weipu; Shisun

Titleslip, inscribed by an unidentified artist (attached to front cover of album):
Wumen Daoren's Landscape Album
From the Collection of the Retreat for Escaping the Dusty World (Xichen An)
Related Objects

Landscapes of Taiping Prefecture (Taiping shanshui tu)

Artist: Xiao Yuncong (Chinese, 1596–1673) Date: ca. 1650 Medium: Woodblock-printed books; ink on paper Accession: CIB8 On view in:Not on view

Ink Landscapes with Poems

Artist: Gong Xian (Chinese, 1619–1689) Date: dated 1688 Medium: Album of sixteen paintings; ink on paper Accession: 1981.4.1a–o On view in:Not on view

Returning Home

Artist: Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707) Date: ca. 1695 Medium: Album of twelve leaves; ink and color on paper Accession: 1976.280a–n On view in:Gallery 213

Eight views of the Yellow Mountains

Artist: Zheng Min (Chinese, 1633–1683) Date: 1681 Medium: Album of nine leaves of painting and calligraphy; ink on paper Accession: 2012.167a–l On view in:Gallery 216