The Four Seasons, Unidentified Artist Chinese, active 15th century, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China

明 佚名 舊傳李唐 四時山水圖 卷
The Four Seasons

Unidentified Artist Chinese, active 15th century
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
15th century
Handscroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 13 13/16 in. x 18 ft. 8 3/8 in. (35.1 x 569.9 cm)
Overall with mounting: 16 5/16 in. x 35 ft. 1/4 in. (41.4 x 1067.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
Not on view
The theme of this painting is the progress of the seasons from spring to winter. The scroll begins with a scene of jagged peaks and mist-filled valleys: trees are tinged with the delicate red of new leaf buds and blossoms; turbulent mountain streams suggest the melting snow of early spring. The composition next opens into a broad vista of a lake whipped by a summer rainstorm. Autumn, with its clear skies, is a time for climbing, and the perspective shifts to high mountains with a view across distant pinnacles. In the final scene, wintry sky and water appear dark against snow-covered mountains, where only the pine and bamboo remain green.

In its combination of eclectic Northern and Southern Song compositional elements and brush techniques, this landscape belongs to the revival of Song styles patronized by the conservative early Ming court. Kept alive during the fourteenth century by such artists as Tang Di (ca. 1296–1364), this style gained new prominence during the early fifteenth century in the hands of such artists as Dai Jin, Zhou Wenjing, and Li Zai.
#7626. The Four Seasons
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Signature: Spurious signature of Li Tang

Inscription: Artist’s signature (1 column in standard script)


Label strip

Nagao Kō 長尾甲 (Japanese, 1864–1942), 1 column in standard script, undated; 1 seal:

老雨署。 [印]: 長尾甲印


1. Luo Zhenyu 羅振玉 (1866–1940), 4 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1937; 2 seals:

北宋畫派以荊、關及董、巨為兩大宗,董、巨一派至元而大昌,荊、關則衣缽甚廣,然至二馬以後,稍傷雄獷。此卷出天水中葉,清勁沉著,真得荊、關神髓。雖不能遽定作者姓名,然必為高手無疑。卷末李唐款為後人所加,蓋不知畫派者所為也。如此妙跡,豈必託名于晞古而後足重哉。丁丑十月上虞羅振玉觀並題記。 [印]: 羅振玉印、文學侍從

2. Nagao Kō 長尾甲 (Japanese, 1864–1942), 18 columns in standard script, dated 1935; 2 seals:

洪谷畫風一變而為咸熙,再變而為晞古,以開馬、夏一派矣。按《圖繪寳鑑》:“李唐,字晞古,河陽三城人。徽宗朝,曾補入畫院,建炎間,大尉邵淵薦之,奉旨授成忠郎,畫院待詔,賜金帶,時年近八十。善畫山水、人物,筆意不凡,高宗雅愛之,嘗題《長夏江寺卷》上云:‘李唐可比李思訓,今觀此畫,骨格陗勁,頗復雄厚,能引人勝處固非常流所辦到。”上虞羅叔言則謂“卷末李唐款為後人所加,蓋不知畫派者所為也。”予竊謂題款真假,姑措不論,唯不知畫派一語未能以老友之故雷同。予審其筆,陗勁出于洪谷,雄厚得自咸熙,合二家之長鎔鑄一爐,又變其法,以闢法門,雖變於古,而不遠于古,幾似晞古以外,無能得此妙者,何可謂不知畫派乎。則定為晞古作,孰為不可,若其題款,或為後人所加,亦瑕不掩瑜,博雅所不棄焉。守屋先生好古精鑑,不知以予言為然耶?否耶?昭和十年乙亥二月雨山七十二叟長尾甲 [印]:長尾甲印、雨山

3. Zhang Daqian 張大千 (1899–1983), 10 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1951:


Collectors’ seals

Gu Luofu 顧洛阜 (John M. Crawford, Jr., 1913–1988)


Illegible: 2

John M. Crawford Jr. , New York (until d. 1988; bequeathed to MMA)
London. Victoria and Albert Museum. "Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Collection of John M. Crawford, Jr.," June 17, 1965–August 1, 1965.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan I," March 1, 2003–September 21, 2003.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Brush: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy," March 12, 2005–August 14, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Four Seasons," January 28, 2006–August 13, 2006.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of the Ming Dynasty: China's Age of Brilliance," January 23, 2009–September 13, 2009.