Image: 36 1/4 x 12 1/2 in. (92.1 x 31.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 79 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. (201.9 x 47 cm)
Overall with knobs: 79 1/2 x 20 7/8 in. (201.9 x 53 cm)
Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1980
Not on view
A poet, calligrapher, and painter known as one of the Ten Friends of the North Wall, Zhang Yu lived in the Suzhou area before the end of the Yuan dynasty. He accepted an appointment in 1371 to serve the Ming, but despite the loyal services he performed his earlier friendships made him suspect in the eyes of the Ming founder, Zhu Yuanzhang (r. 1368–98), and he was eventually driven to suicide. This landscape, painted two years before the founding of the Ming dynasty, shows the artist in the peaceful state of mind of the recluse. In late Yuan painting the depiction of a thatched studio by a stream became popular as a symbol of the scholar's condition—a life in reclusion. Zhang Yu's poetic sensibility is expressed through the subtle use of ink wash and pale colors and in the suggestion of dense moisture-laden clouds dissipating after a spring shower. The descriptive realism of the work relates the painter to the more conservative styles of the early Yuan period; the horizontal black and blue-green "Mi" dots may have been inspired by Spring Mountains and Pines (National Palace Museum, Taipei), attributed to Mi Fu (1052–1107).
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (2 columns in seal script)
On the tenth day of the third lunar month in the bingwu year of the Zhizheng reign era [April 20, 1366] Zhang Yu painted Spring Clouds at the Pine Studio.
1. Wu Gui吳珪 (late 14th c.), 3 columns in standard script, undated; 2 seals:
Master Zhang [Yu], an elegant and tasteful man, Painted wonders with delicate brushwork in his Pine Studio. Poetry often evokes painting, But how is it compared with the poetry evoked by painting? Inscribed by Wu Gui [Seals]: Wu Gui, Zhixing
Gorgeous gilt pavilions reach the clouds; Spring pines outside the studio brim over with green. The human world certainly has no realms like this; It must be somewhere I visited in my precious life. Inscribed by the Emperor on New Year’s Day of the jiashen year [February 2, 1764]. [Seals]: Ji xia yiqing, Qianlong chenhan
Qing emperor Qianlong清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–1795) Sanxi Tang jingjian xi 三希堂精鋻璽 Yi zisun 宜子孫 Shiqu baoji 石渠寳笈 Qianlong yulan zhi bao 乾隆御覽之寳 Qianlong jianshang 乾隆鑑賞
Chen Lüping 陳履平(active 1st half of the 18th c.) Tan Zhai 坦齋 Dayao Chen shi 大姚陳氏
 Translations from Department records.
Douglas Dillon , New York (until 1980; donated 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. "Cultivated Landscapes: Reflections of Nature in Chinese Painting with Selections from the Collection of Marie-Hélène and Guy Weill," September 10, 2002–February 9, 2003.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Douglas Dillon Legacy: Chinese Painting for the Metropolitan Museum," March 12, 2004–August 8, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Journeys: Mapping the Earth and Mind in Chinese Art," February 10, 2007–August 26, 2007.
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.