Landscapes in the styles of old masters, Gao Cen (Chinese, active 1643–after 1682), Album of ten leaves; ink and color on silk, China

清 高岑 擬古山水圖 冊 絹本
Landscapes in the styles of old masters

Gao Cen (Chinese, active 1643–after 1682)
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
dated 1667
Album of ten leaves; ink and color on silk
Each leaf: 8 1/8 x 8 3/8 in. (20.5 x 21.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, C. C. Wang Gift, 2007
Accession Number:
Not on view
Gao Cen was among the most accomplished of the so-called Eight Masters of Nanjing. He specialized in small-scale gemlike paintings executed in an intricate, descriptive style that highlighted the scenery of the city. Perpetuating a tradition of topographic painting practiced during the late Ming, Gao produced works to supply the growing demand for mementos of Nanjing's fabled sights, including places with nostalgic links to the city's glory days under the Ming. A sensitive recorder of the familiar, Gao was also an innovative experimenter with light, atmosphere, and color whose art reflects a creative response to Western influences introduced by Jesuits such as Matteo Ricci (1552–1610). Gao's wistful, atmospheric landscapes are noteworthy for seamlessly fusing descriptive realism and poetic feeling to achieve exquisite evocations of place and mood.

Gao's works are rare today and this album, which captures aspects of Nanjing's scenery at different times of year and in varied weather conditions, is one of his finest. Dated to the peak period of his career, it combines lyrical suggestions of actual scenery with an evocation of antique styles.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (1 column in standard script, on the last leaf)

Gao Cen from the Stone Citadel [Nanjing] painted after ancient masters on a spring day in the dingwei year [1667].


Artist’s seal

Weisheng 蔚生

Inscription on wood cover

Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, undated:

Private collection (until sale, China Guardian Auctions Co. Ltd, Beijing, November 22, 2006, lot 799, to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Art of the Chinese Album," September 6, 2014–March 29, 2015.