Wang Hui was born to a family of professional painters who gave him his early training. In his late teens, Wang was discovered by the prominent scholar-painters Wang Jian and Wang Shimin—both former pupils of the towering Dong Qichang—who trained him using their own significant collections of old master paintings. Wang Hui’s early education had prepared him to be a professional painter—a fine existence but one of low status. Under the elder Wangs’ tutelage, he jumped into a different social stratum, where he rubbed shoulders with the most respected men in the realm and eventually painted for the emperor himself. This painting, one of Wang’s early breakthroughs as a landscapist, is inscribed by his mentor Wang Shimin.
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清 王翬 太行山色圖 卷
Title:The Colors of Mount Taihang
Artist:Wang Hui (Chinese, 1632–1717)
Period:Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Medium:Handscroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:Image: 10 x 82 1/2 in. (25.3 x 209.4 cm) Overall with mounting: 11 3/4 x 348 in. (29.8 x 883.9 cm)
Credit Line:Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1978
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (6 columns in semi-cursive script):
Once in the home of a noble family in Guangling [Yangzhou], I saw a small scroll by Guan Tong [active ca. 907–23]. [In it] clouds and peaks race together with a luxuriant and dense air. Truly, it pierced my heart and dazzled my eyes. Even today, I remember a few things from it. Accordingly I have followed its method to create this painting, Colors of Mount Taihang. I hope it captures the deep and heroic atmosphere of the north country, rather than merely postures with pretty details. Three days after the Mid-autumn Festival in the jiyou year [September 12, 1669] Wang Hui of Yushan [made] and inscribed [this painting].
Shigu’s [Wang Hui] handscroll, The Colors of Mount Taihang. Divine class. In the Zhou family collection in Changsha [in Hunan Province]. Ziweng inscribed.
石谷 《太行山色》 卷，神品，長沙周氏珍藏，自翁題記。
Pan Yijun 潘奕雋 (1740–1830), 4 characters in large clerical script, 9 columns in standard script, dated 1816; 3 seals:
A divine-class [work] by Shigu [Wang Hui].
On the twenty-sixth day of the fourth lunar month in the bingzi year of the Jiaqing reign era [May 22, 1816] Yijun inscribed this in the Hall of Three Pines. [Seals]: Huaqiao laopu, Pan yijun yin, Yi hu Mulan liang deng Taidai zai you Huanghai san su Wutai
1. Chen Chongben 陳崇本 (active ca. 1775–after 1815); 4 columns in semi-cursive script, undated:
Fan Zhongli’s [Fan Kuan, ca. 990–1030] large hanging scroll, Traveling in Snowy Mountains, which I once owned, has long since entered the imperial collection. Its brushwork and that of this scroll are extremely similar. One may thus know that in his breast Gengyan [Wang Hui] had deeply attained the hills and valleys of the ancients. Therefore, when he put his brush [to silk, the result was] like this, extremely full. At the beginning is a title by Xilu Laoren [Wang Shimin], from which one may gather his delight in it. [Chen] Chongben recorded.
2. Chen Chongben 陳崇本 (active ca. 1775–after 1815), 5 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1815; 1 seal:
I recently obtained some imitations of the ancients by Gengyan [Wang Hui], four paintings [each measuring] about three feet square. Perhaps he intended them for a small standing screen showing the four seasons, but the silk, after more than a hundred years, has not yet been mounted. For the painting of the autumn scene he followed the same draft as for this Colors of Mount Taihang. I shall mount [the four paintings] on two hanging scrolls to preserve them for my enjoyment. On the second day of the seventh lunar month in the Jiaqing reign era, the yihai year [August 6, 1815], recorded by [Chen] Chongben. [Seal]: Bogong suocang
Zhang Daqian 張大千 (1899–1983) Dafeng Tang zhencang yin 大風堂珍藏印 Nan bei dong xi zhiyou xiangsui wu bieli 南北東西只有相隨無別離 Zhang Yuan 張爰 Daqian xi 大千璽
Wang Jiqian 王季遷 (C.C. Wang, 1907–2003) Wang Jiqian haiwai suojian mingji 王季遷海外所見名跡 Wangshi Jiqian zhencang zhi yin 王氏季遷珍藏之印 Zhuli Guan 竹里館 Cengcang Wang Jiqian chu 曾藏王季遷處
Mu Si 穆思 (Earl Morse, 1908–1988) Mu Si shoucang mingji 穆思收藏名跡 Mu Si zhencang 穆思珍藏
Unidentified Shuotang zhenwan 碩堂珍玩 Yu shi suocang 于氏所藏 Yi zisun 宜子孫 Yuanshi fu 元士父 Hanlin xueshi 翰林學士 Fuxuan miji zhi yin 芾軒秘笈之印
 Translation after Roderick Whitfield and Wen Fong, In Pursuit of Antiquity: Chinese Paintings of the Ming and Qing Dynasties from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, Exh. cat. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 1969, cat. no. 14, p. 108. The Romanization has been changed from the Wade-Gile to the pinyin system.  Translation after Whitfield 1969, p. 109.  Ibid.
C. C. Wang Family; Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse , New York (by 1969–about 1976; sold to Dillon);; Douglas Dillon American, New York (1976–78), donated to MMA
Princeton University Art Museum. "Images of the Mind: Selections from the Edward L. Elliot Family and John B. Elliott Collections of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting at the Art Museum, Princeton University," April 15–June 17, 1984.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Images of the Mind: Selections from the Edward L. Elliot Family and John B. Elliott Collections of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting at the Art Museum, Princeton University," September 18, 1987–January 10, 1988.
Zurich. Museum Rietberg. "The Mandate of Heaven: Emperors and Artists in China," April 2, 1996–July 7, 1996.
Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Mandate of Heaven: Emperors and Artists in China," August 3, 1996–November 10, 1996.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Artist as Collector: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the C.C.Wang Family Collection," September 2, 1999–January 9, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Millennium of Chinese Painting: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," September 8, 2001–January 13, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "When the Manchus Ruled China: Painting under the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911)," February 2–August 18, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Douglas Dillon Legacy: Chinese Painting for the Metropolitan Museum," March 12–August 8, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632–1717)," September 9, 2008–January 4, 2009.
London. Victoria and Albert Museum. "Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700–1900," October 26, 2013–January 19, 2014.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Art of the Chinese Album," September 6, 2014–March 29, 2015.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Up Close," January 25, 2020–June 27, 2021.
Fong, Wen C. et al. Images of the Mind: Selections from the Edward L. Elliott Family and John B. Elliott Collections of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting at the Art Museum, Princeton University. Exh. cat. Princeton, N.J.: Art Museum, Princeton University in association with Princeton University Press, 1984, pp. 188–90, fig. 156.
Barnhart, Richard M., Wen C. Fong, and Maxwell K. Hearn. Mandate of Heaven: Emperors and Artists in China: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat. Zürich: Museum Rietberg, 1996, pp. 162, 164–65, 226, cat. no. 33.
Chen Kuilin 陳夔麟. Baoyu Ge shuhua lu 寳迂閣書畫錄 (Catalogue of calligraphy and painting of the Baoyu Ge Studio). Preface dated 1915, juan 2.Reprinted in Lidai shuhualu jikan 歷代書畫錄輯刊 (Compendium of publications on painting and calligraphy from successive periods) Beijing: Beijing Tushuguan chubanshe, 2007, vol. 13, pp. 467–70.
Ling Lizhong 凌利中. Wang Yuanqi tihua shougao jianshi 王原祁題畫手稿箋釋 (Annotated research on Wang Yuanqi’s manuscript of painting inscriptions) Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2017, p. 246, cat. no. 59.
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