元 倪瓚 江渚風林圖 軸 Wind among the Trees on the Riverbank
Ni Zan (Chinese, 1306–1374)
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Image: 23 1/4 x 12 1/4 in. (59.1 x 31.1 cm) Overall with mounting: 102 1/4 x 22 1/4 in. (259.7 x 56.5 cm) Overall with knobs: 102 1/4 x 27 1/2 in. (259.7 x 69.9 cm)
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Not on view
Between 1356 and 1366 Ni Zan led a refugee's life, residing with his family southwest of Suzhou at a place he nicknamed the Snail's Hut. Compared to his Wuxi days, this was "another lifetime," but the family was able to settle down to an existence of "simple sustenance, harmony, and happiness." His paintings and calligraphy from this period are more assured and relaxed; consequently, they sometimes appear sketchy, a characteristic Ni consciously sought: "Try to do things in a sketchy manner. Develop forms with a free hand . . . by following your ideas and feelings."
This painting, made for fellow scholar-artist Yu Kan (active 14th century), reflects Ni's spontaneous manner. Painted the same year Ni's wife died, it may also express the artist's growing sense of isolation. His inscription reads:
On the riverbank, the evening tide begins to fall; The frost-covered leaves of the windblown grove are sparse. I lean on my staff—the brushwood gate is closed and silent; I think of my friend—the glow is nearly gone from the hills.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (4 columns in standard script)
On the river bank, the evening tide begins to fall; The frost-covered leaves of the windblown grove are sparse. I lean on my staff – the brushwood gate is closed and silent; I think of my friend – the glow is nearly gone from the hills. On the fifteenth day of the ninth month in the guimao year of the Zhizheng era [October 22, 1363] I playfully painted this for Mr. Shengbo [Yu Kan, active ca. 1354] and composed a quatrain too. Ni Zan
Wu Hufan 吳湖帆 (1894–1968), 1 column in standard script, dated 1938; 1 seal:
Wind Among the Trees on the Riverbank, a genuine work by Ni Yunlin [Ni Zan] of the Yuan dynasty. In the spring of the wuyin year , Wu Hufan inscribed the label. [Seal]: Dongzhuang
元倪雲林《江渚風林圖》真跡，戊寅春吳湖帆題籤。 [印]： 東莊
Yu Hang 俞沆 (active early 19th c.), 8 columns in standard script, dated 1826:
Of the so-called Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty, Yunlin [Ni Zan] was the purest in character. His painting and calligraphy, therefore, exhibit an untrammeled subtlety that is unrivaled in the past or the future. This painting for Shengbo, accompanied with a poem, shows his artistry even better. At that time, Yunlin was friends with Zhang Boyu [Zhang Yu, 1283-1350], Ke Jingzhong [Ke Jiusi, 1290-1343] and Wang Shuming [Wang Meng, 1308-1385], but was particularly close to Yu Shengbo, the eighth-generation descendant of Duke Yong[guo] [Yu Yunwen, 1110-1174]. That was why he painted this scroll, which naturally differed from his other works. It was at first in Xiang Molin’s [Xiang Yuanbian, 1525-1590] collection; then it went to Gao Jiangcun [Gao Shiqi, 1645-1704], and was recorded in his Xiaoxia lu. Sometime later it entered Miao Wenzi’s [Miao Yuezao, 1682-1761] collection. Last year [Lü] Songhuo (active early 19th c.), while traveling in Suzhou, traded a certain Ming calligraphic piece for this scroll. He brought it back and showed me, asking for an inscription to record its history. In the sixth year of the Daoguang era , during the last decade of the second month of the bingxu year, Zixian, Yu Hang, inscribed.