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Hostelry and Travelers in Snowy Mountains

Yuan Yao (Chinese, active 1730–after 1778)

Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
dated 1745
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Image: 67 1/4 x 48 3/4 in. (170.8 x 123.8 cm) Overall with mounting: 121 3/4 x 50 1/2 in. (309.2 x 128.3 cm) Overall with knobs: 121 3/4 x 54 1/2 in. (309.2 x 138.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Wang and Family, in memory of Douglas Dillon, 2003
Accession Number:
2003.246
  • Description

    This painting, with its extravagant depiction of the rigors of traveling in the mountains in winter, would have appealed to the merchants from the northern province of Shanxi. Inspired by fantastic garden rockeries rather than an actual landscape, Yuan Yao’s fanciful composition juxtaposes a twisting vertical mountainscape with a level vista where a playful zigzag bridge bisects the view. A distant range of precipitous peaks is straddled by a bridge ornamented with a pavilion—a typical garden conceit in the level terrain of south China—that is incongruously suspended over a deep chasm. In the foreground, a bustling country inn promises a welcome rest stop for travelers.

    Yuan first laid out this monochrome masterpiece with pale outlines then added broader, boldly brushed contours in varying ink tones that both model forms and enliven them with graphic energy. The result is a dynamic composition that appears to have been executed with great spontaneity—belying the care with which each motif was planned and rendered. Yuan’s craftsmanship is most apparent in his handling of ink washes that leave the snow-covered surfaces in reserve.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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