Set of four hanging scrolls; ink and color on paper
Image (a): 126 3/8 x 37 in. (321 x 94 cm)
Image (b): 127 1/4 x 36 7/8 in. (323.2 x 93.7 cm)
Image (c): 126 3/4 x 36 7/8 in. (321.9 x 93.7 cm)
Image (d): 126 7/8 x 36 7/8 in. (322.3 x 93.7 cm)
Overall with mounting (b): 141 3/4 x 42 3/8 in. (360 x 107.6 cm)
Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 2008
Not on view
These two paintings belong to a set of enormous landscapes depicting the four seasons. They are all similarly composed, with large figures at the bottom and towering mountains above. Each season has its own narrative. In the springtime scene (right), two gentlemen on horseback cross a bridge with their servants. In the summer scene (left), travelers struggle against a strong wind, while a gentleman in a pavilion observes the storm.
In his paintings Xie Shichen creates spaces that are poetic rather than representational, incorporating narrative vignettes and stylistic references to past masters. Here, he skillfully blends two distinct modes of painting. The first, favored by professional painters, is that of the Zhe School, which tended toward large-scale narrative subjects. The second is ascribed to the Wu School, whose calligraphic approach to landscapes was preferred by scholar-amateurs.