Spring Dawn Over the Elixir Terrace

Artist: Lu Guang (Chinese, ca. 1300–after 1371)

Period: early Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: ca. 1369

Culture: China

Medium: Hanging scroll; ink on paper

Dimensions: Image: 24 1/4 x 10 1/4 in. (61.6 x 26 cm)
Overall with mounting: 87 1/2 x 17 5/8 in. (222.3 x 44.8 cm)
Overall with knobs: 87 1/2 x 20 5/8 in. (222.3 x 52.4 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Edward Elliott Family Collection, Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.2.2


To escape the turbulence of the closing years of the Yuan dynasty, Lu Guang traveled far from his native city of Suzhou. He painted Spring Dawn after his return to the Lake Tai area, following the establishment of the Ming dynasty in 1368. The reference to the Elixir Terrace in the title of the painting indicates the artist's interest in both Daoist alchemy and the pursuit of immortality; the poem, which describes "elixir rays emitted from a well turning into [auspicious] clouds at dawn," expresses Lu's optimism in the new era. In the city of Wuxing in 1369, Lu Guang saw and inscribed an important painting attributed to Yan Wengui (act. ca. 980-1010). Although Spring Dawn, which was painted about the same time, shows the influence of Yan Wengui's monumental composition, Lu Guang's brushwork is utterly different from the Northern Song descriptive style. The loosely directed kinesthetic brush-strokes, building layer after layer upon themselves, evoke landscape forms as might a tone poem.