元 倪瓚 秋林野興圖 軸 Enjoying the Wilderness in an Autumn Grove
Ni Zan (Chinese, 1306–1374)
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Image: 38 5/8 x 27 1/8 in. (98.1 x 68.9 cm) Overall with mounting: 106 7/8 x 35 7/8 in. (271.5 x 91.1 cm) Overall with knobs: 106 7/8 x 40 in. (271.5 x 101.6 cm)
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Not on view
Until the early 1340s, Ni Zan lived the life of a wealthy dilettante, spending his time among the precious books, antiques, and flowers of his Pure and Secluded Pavilion. His painting style at the time, as seen here, exhibits a studied archaism in which his interest in descriptive detail is at odds with his self-conscious use of calligraphic "hemp fiber" brushstrokes in the manner of tenth-century masters. Ni's gentleman seated in a rustic pavilion is shorthand for the scholar in his studio. His florid poem exhibits a similarly precious quality of one entirely absorbed in his immediate surroundings. It reads, in part:
In the bright days, bamboo wave in the breeze; In the dark nights, parasols of fir hold up the moon. Burning incense I use [a censer in the form of] a gilded duck; Gathering scattered petals, I place them inside my pillow. (trans. Wen Fong)
Inscription: Artist’s inscriptions and signatures
(8 columns in standard script, dated 1339)
After I painted Enjoying the Wilderness in an Autumn Grove for Xiaoshan, he brought it back to me in the mid ninth month for an inscription. It happened that on the fifteenth of last month, upon seeing the blossoming cassia tree in front of my Jingchu Zhai Studio, I composed the following poem. From spring to autumn this year there hadn’t been a single day when I felt truly inspired. That was the only thing I composed, which I recorded at the left: How I delight in autumn, both the inkstone and mat cool; With the bamboo shade rolled up, a fine dew on my robe. Forest gate and cave month bring forth fresh pleasures; Green rain and yellow mist enclose my remote bed. In the bright days, bamboo wave in the breeze; In the dark nights, parasols of fir hold up the moon. Burning incense I use [a censor in the form of] a gilded duck; Gathering scattered petals I place them inside my pillow. On the fourteenth day of the ninth lunar month of the jimao year [October 16, 1339], Yunlinsheng, Ni Zan.
(5 columns in standard script, dated 1354): In the winter [of the fourteenth year of the Zhizheng era], the eleventh month of the jiawu year , I stopped on my travel at the South Bank of Fuli [a town near Suzhou]. Lu Mengde, who just returned from Wusung [near Shanghai], brought this to show me. It has been kept in the family of his friend, Mr. Huang Yunzhong. I painted this on a whim. It has been sixteen years since then. I sighed at the sight of it, which felt like from another world. Zan, having inscribed it a second time at the left [of the picture], gave it back. On the nineteenth day [December 3, 1354].