Wind among the Trees on the Riverbank, Ni Zan (Chinese, 1306–1374), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, China

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)
dated 1363
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)
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
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.
#7480. Wind among the Trees on the Riverbank
For Audio Guide tours and information, visit
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[1]


Label strip

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 [1938], 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 [1826], during the last decade of the second month of the bingxu year, Zixian, Yu Hang, inscribed.[2]

元時四逸,惟雲林氣節最高潔,故書畫得逸中妙趣,過去未來無與其匹。此幅為勝伯作,兼系以詩,益見精妙。蓋當時雲林相契張伯雨、柯敬仲、王叔明,虞勝伯則雍公八世孫,而與勝伯尤密,故有是作,較他幅又自不同也。原藏項墨林,後歸高江邨,載入 《消夏錄》,不知何時而得繆文子收藏。去年松壑客吳門,以明人手澤易得之,携歸視余,并属題數言以記顛末。道光六年歲次丙戌仲春下澣子僊俞沆識。

Collectors’ seals

Song Lian 宋濂 (1301–1381)
Jinhua Song shi Jinglian 金華宋氏景濂

Xiang Yuanbian 項元汴 (1525–1590)
Tianlai Ge 天籟閣
Zijing 子京
Molin miwan 墨林秘玩

Sun Chengze 孫承澤 (1592–1676)
Beiping Sun shi 北平孫氏

Gao Shiqi 高士奇 (1645–1704)
Bu yi san gong yi ciri 不以三公易此日
Jianjing Zhai 簡靜齋
Zhuchuang 竹窗

Wang Shu 王澍 (1668–1739)
Wang Shu yin 王澍印

Miao Yuezao 繆曰藻 (1682–1761)
Wumen Miao shi zhenshang 吳門繆氏珍賞
Wenzi 文子

Lü Songhe 呂松壑 (active early 19th c. )
Haiyang Lü Songhe jiancang 海陽呂松壑鋻藏

Zhu Rongjue 朱榮爵 (20th c.)
Anwu Zhu Rongjue zi Jinghou suocang shuhua 安吳朱榮爵字靖侯所藏書畫
Jinghou miji 靖侯秘笈
Zisun baozhi 子孫寶之
Ruyuan 如願
Zisun baozhi 子孫寶之
Yunsong Guan 雲松館

Gu Luofu 顧洛阜(John M. Crawford, Jr., 1913–1988)
Gu Luofu 顧洛阜
Hanguang Ge 漢光閣
Hanguang Ge Zhu Gu Luofu jiancang Zhongguo gudai shuhua zhi zhang 漢光閣主顧洛阜鑑藏中國古代書畫之章

Shanghai Zhou Ziyu zhencang shuhua miji yin上海周子寓珍藏書畫秘笈印
Kuaiji Waishi ?? 會稽外史囗囗

[1] Translation from Department records.
[2] Translation from Department records.
John M. Crawford Jr. , New York (until d. 1988; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Traditional Scholarly Values at the End of the Qing Dynasty: The Collection of Weng Tonghe (1830–1904)," June 30, 1998–January 3, 1999.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Scholars' Rocks: Gardens, Studios, and Paintings," February 1, 2000–August 20, 2000.

New York. China Institute in America. "The Chinese Painter as Poet," September 14, 2000–December 10, 2000.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings," March 1, 2008–August 10, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Yuan Revolution: Art and Dynastic Change," August 21, 2010–January 9, 2011.

Shanghai Museum. "Masterpieces of Chinese Tang, Song and Yuan Paintings from America," November 3, 2012–January 3, 2013.