Eight views of the Yellow Mountains

Zheng Min Chinese

Not on view

In the seventeenth century, painters from Anhui began to exploit the album’s special qualities to represent the Yellow Mountains (Huangshan), vista by vista, one leaf at a time. This example, by the relatively little-known artist Zheng Min, ranks among the best Huangshan albums; its compositional originality and subtle brushwork unfolds over a journey of eight distinct parts. Zheng Min combined the signature dry brush technique of the Anhui School’s founder Hongren with subtle ink washes to create a less austere, more descriptive style. Adding to the album’s appeal is the artist’s lengthy inscription, on the final leaf,which explains the story of the album’s creation.

In this long inscription, written to accompany the album, Zheng Min explains the circumstances of its creation: [Summary]: In 1681, Zheng was approached by a younger friend named Chuzhen, who asked the master to paint two albums: one for him, and one for a friend. He obliged, painting this album for Chuzhen in the hopes of spurring his interest in Mount Huang, where the young man had never been. Zheng Min himself had been there only twice, the most recent trip more than seven years earlier. He painted this album from memory. In his inscription, he writes, “In the future, after all his children get married, if Chuzhen ever travels there, I hope he will take this album with him to check against the actual sites. I will then become his tour guide.”
—Trans. by Shi-yee Liu

Eight views of the Yellow Mountains, Zheng Min (Chinese, 1633–1683), Album of nine leaves of painting and calligraphy; ink on paper, China

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Leaf a. Pines at the Heavenly Gate