Guo Xi, the preeminent landscape painter of the late eleventh century, sought to give form to poetic images and emotions and was particularly interested in conveying the nuances of seasons and times of day. Old Trees, Level Distance,a variation on the classic “level-distance” formula of tall foreground trees set against a wide river valley, is probably a late work done for a fellow government official on the eve of his retirement. In the final section of the handscroll, the leafless trees and deepening mist impart a forlorn, autumnal air to a scene in which two elderly figures approach a pavilion, perhaps to join colleagues in bidding farewell to a friend. DOCUMENTATION No artist’s inscription, signature, or seal Label strip Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, undated: 郭熙樹色平遠 Colophons 1. Feng Zizhen馮子振 (1257–after 1327), 11 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 3 seals: Layered mists and dense fog obscure storied pavilions;Many sandy islets overlook the desolate expanse.The old tree's spirit will last a thousand years;The moist washes and the manner [of the trees] are as enduring as metal and rock.Amid the duckweed of misty islands, skiffs moor for the night,And still along the cold river bamboo grows.Of the honorable Guo [Xi]’s [paintings of] level vistas, few remain.How treasured the master-painter's works should be! Haisu [Feng Zizhen] [Seals]: Zizhen, Haisu, Guai guai daoren 煙層霧鬱迷樓閣，沙嶼欹欹俯寒莫。老髯韻度閱千年，潤姿偃蹇金石堅。蘋洲小艇爭雲宿，尚有滄江留水竹。郭郎平遠今無多，畫師珍重奈爾何。 海粟 [印]：子振、海粟、怪怪道人 2. Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254–1322), 3 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 1 seal:山峙川流宇宙間，欲將水墨寫應難。平生高步林泉意，苦縛微官未可攀。 子昂 [印]：趙氏子昂 3. Yu Ji 虞集 (1272–1348), 3 columns in standard script, undated: 白石漱水彌潔，青松遞雲轉高。為問郭公畫裏，何如施氏東皋。 虞集題。 4. Ke Jiusi柯九思 (1290–1343), 3 columns in semi-cursive script, undated: 郭熙筆法出營丘，古木空亭老更幽。記得溪橋曾訪隱，斜陽澹澹遠山秋。 柯九思賦。 5. Liu Guan柳貫 (1270–1342), 3 columns in standard script, undated; 1 seal: 郭熙工畫洛南山，品在荊關伯仲間。鼇背小亭能著我，倚闌時送鶴飛還。 柳貫 [印]：柳氏道傳 6. Yen Yaohuan顏堯煥 (14th century), 12 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 3 seals: Su Shi [1037–1101] once wrote the poem: In Jade Hall, dawn is shaded even on an idle spring day,within there is Guo Xi's painting of spring mountains. Now Wen Yanbo, the Duke of Lu, had written a colophon on a painting by Guo Xi, and then Old Su Shi had composed a poem after this colophon. These two gentlemen were brilliant and famous officials of their time, but to be able to see such inscriptions nowadays-it is no longer possible! More than one painting by Guo Xi exists, however: take time to examine this Autumn Trees in a Level Distance [as he called Old Trees, Level Distance]. Its materials are frombetween the Baoyuan [1038–39] and the Yuanyou [1086–93] eras, now returned to the Route Commander Old Shi Donggao's writing table after three hundred years. Old Dong has obtained that which is rarely obtained; this painting has also encountered that which is rarely encountered; I too am able to see that which is rarely seen. For this reason I write him this poem in remembrance: The fascination of Guo Xi's painting lies not in its colors,white rocks, withered rafts pillowed by the currents.This level distance contains sentiments in its illusory lands,its inscriptions enhance our distance from the past.On a single layer of white silk, clouds astir and flowing,for three hundred years and more, the stars have made several revolutions.Holding [the scroll] with Donggao, we often spread it out in appreciation,together with our lutes and books, we happily roam.Yan Yaohuan [Seals]: Yan Yaohuan zhang, Mingke, Jingxue 昔東坡有詩“玉堂晝掩春日閑，中有郭熙畫春山。”蓋文潞公嘗跋其畫，而坡老則詩其跋也。二公昭代名臣重望，其品題豈得哉。郭圖在人間不一。今此《樹色平遠圖》，以時攷之，料亦寶元、元祐間所作，於今三百載，而歸于揔管東皐施翁書几，皐翁得所罕得，圖亦遇所罕遇，余亦見所罕見，故為之書而繫之詩：郭圖妙處不在色，白石枯槎枕洑流。平遠有情含幻境，品題增重自前脩。一重素絹雲飛動，三百餘年星幾周。持向東皐時展玩，琴書相伴樂清遊。 顏堯煥 [印]：顏堯煥章、明可、敬學 7. Zuming 祖銘 (1280–1358), 8 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1350; 2 seals: 我愛郭熙畫，妙與造化侔。雲山意淡薄，水物同悠悠。鰲峰峰上亭，萬境一目收。開巻興不淺，作詩助清幽。至正庚寅十月望日徑山鼎翁祖銘 [印]：妙喜五世、四明應古鼎祖銘寶藏 8. Wang Shizhen王世貞 (1526–1590), 11 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals: 右郭熙《樹色平遠圖》一卷，按熙河陽溫人，渠宗若虛稱其施為巧瞻，位置淵深，雖復學慕營丘，亦能自放胸臆，巨障高壁多多益壯。至宣和帝則盛推李成，而謂熙與范寬、王詵雖自成名，僅得一體。然熙之傳世者多號平遠，與若虛所記頗不同。余嘗得戴文進倣熙巻，絕愛之，時置几案間，以當臥遊之樂。今覽此畫，乃知文進尚有蹊徑也。孤亭木末，平楚蒼然，遙艇小橋，時自映帶，若深若淺，或晦或明，幾欲置身此間，文進三舍矣。巻尾趙松雪、虞道園、馮海粟、柯丹丘輩皆勝國名士，恨語不甚稱耳。吳郡王世貞題。 [印]：王元美印、天弢居士 9. Chen Yan 陳演 (died 1644), 1 column in clerical script, undated; 1 seal:穎川陳演同黃潤甫、姚大有靜觀於大江之清谿。 [印]：道易氏 10. Zhang Daqian 張大千 (1899–1983), 2 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1955; 2 seals: 郭河陽《樹色平遠》，無上希有，大風堂供養。乙未七月既望曝畫因記。蜀人張爰大千父 [印]：張爰長壽、大千富昌大吉 Collectors’ seals Song Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗 (r. 1101–1125) Xuanghe zhongmi 宣和中秘 Wang Shizhen 王世貞 (1526–1590) Wang Yuanmei yin 王元美印 You Ming Wang shi tushu zhi yin 有明王氏圖書之印 Qiankun qingshang 乾坤清賞 Tiantao Jushi 天弢居士 Sun Chengze 孫承澤 (1592–1676) Sun Chengze yin 孫承澤印 Liang Qingbiao 梁清標 (1620–1691) Jiaolin Jushi 蕉林居士 Liang shi 梁氏 Jiaolin Shuwu 蕉林書屋 Tangcun 棠邨 Jiaolin jianding 蕉林鑒定 Cangyanzi 蒼巖子 Jiaolin miwan 蕉林秘玩 Guan qi dalue 觀其大略 Suo E’tu 索額圖 (ca. 1636–1703) Jiuru qingwan 九如清玩 Yougu Xuan 友古軒 Yuci Zhongxiao Tang Changbai Shan Suo shi zhencang 御賜忠孝堂長白山索氏珍藏 Ye Yuan zhenshang 也園珍賞 Duhua 讀畫 Aerxipu 阿爾喜普 (active late 17th – early 18th c.) Dongping 東平 Aerxipu zhi yin 阿爾喜普之印 Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–95) Shiqu baoji 石渠寶笈 Yangxin Dian jiancang bao 養心殿鑒藏寶 Qianlong yulan zhi bao 乾隆御覽之寶 Qing emperor Jiaqing 清帝嘉慶 (r. 1796–1820) Jiaqing yulan zhi bao 嘉慶御覽之寶 Qing emperor Xuantong 清帝宣統 (r. 1909–11) Xuantong yulan zhi bao 宣統御覽之寶 Zhang Daqian 張大千 (1899–1983) Zhang Yuan siyin 張爰私印 Dafeng Tang yin 大風堂印 Cang zhi Daqian 藏之大千 Qiu tu bao gurou qing 球圖寶骨肉情 Bufu guren gao houren 不復古人告後人 Zhang Yuan 張爰 Daqian Jushi 大千居士 Bieshi rongyi 別時容易 Diguo zhi fu 敵國之富 Shuke 蜀客 Dafeng Tang gongyang 大風堂供養 Nan bei dong xi zhi ren 南北東西之人 Jichou yihou suode 己丑以後所得 Xu Wenbo 徐雯波 (born 1941) Zhang Xu Wenbo 張徐雯波 Hongpin 鴻嬪 Hongpin Tang yin 鴻嬪堂印 Xu shi xiaoyin 徐氏小印 Gu Luofu 顧洛阜 (John M. Crawford, Jr., 1913–1988)Hanguang Ge zhu Gu Luofu jiancang Zhongguo gudai shuhua zhi zhang 漢光閣主顧洛阜鑒藏中國古代書畫之章 Gu Luofu 顧洛阜 Hanguang Ge 漢光閣 Unidentified Zhuo zhi ? 棁之囗 Dingyuan 鼎元 Zhenwan 珍玩 Fajiang 法匠 Xianyi tushu zhi yin 賢頤圖書之印 Gu shi ? ? zhencang 顧氏囗囗珍藏  Translation from Shen Fu, Traces of the brush: studies in Chinese calligraphy, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1977, no. 19, p. 254. Slightly modified. Translation from Ping Foong, “Guo Xi's Intimate Landscapes and the Case of Old Trees, Level Distance.” Metropolitan Museum Journal vol. 35 (2000), pp. 87–112, at p. 100.