Dragon Pine on Mount Huang

Unidentified artist
After Hongren Chinese

Not on view

This monumental work is one of the monk-painter Hongren's many portraits of the powerfully eccentric pines on Mount Huang, a scenic spot in Anhui Province. He was a guiding figure of the Anhui school of painters, whose common bond was their fascination with the rugged scenery of Mount Huang. Hongren favored a dry linear style that echoed the lofty moral character of the Yuan dynasty recluse-painter Ni Zan (1306–1374). Intense emotion lurks beneath the surface of Hongren's seemingly cool and detached style.

A staunch Ming loyalist, Hongren became a Buddhist monk after the Manchu conquest of the south in 1645. His poem, inscribed on this painting, alludes to the theme of endurance and survival, long associated with the great pine:

Coiled above a mountain peak, his physique
is superb.
How old is he? What man can tell?
the elixir of immortality, at the beginning
of time,
[The pine's] dense scales and claws were already
fully grown.

Dragon Pine on Mount Huang, Unidentified artist, Hanging scroll; ink and pale color on paper, China

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