Clearing Autumn Skies over Mountains and Valleys

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Artist: Traditionally attributed to Guo Xi (傳)郭熙 (ca. 1001-1090)
Historical period(s)
Northern Song dynasty, mid-11th to early 12th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (painting): 25.9 × 205.6 cm (10 3/16 × 80 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


autumn, China, mountain, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127), pine tree, scholar, temple

Duanfang (1861-1911), China [1]

To 1916
Pang Yuanji (1864-1949), Shanghai, China, to 1916 [2]

From 1916 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Pang Yuanji, through Pang Zanchen (1881-1951) and Seaouke Yue (You Xiaoxi) (late 19th-early 20th century), in New York, in 1916 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] According to Curatorial Remarks in the object record. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1138, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, P'ang Catalogue: Antique Famous Chinese Paintings Collected by P'ang Lai Ch'en.

[3] According to Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), pg. 23 and pg. 37, note 118. Larsen explains that Pang Zanchen (the younger brother of Pang Yuanji) and Seaouke Yue were tasked by Pang Yuanji with bringing his paintings to New York to show them to Charles Lang Freer. See also, Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1138, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Duanfang 1861-1911
Pang Yuanji (C.L. Freer source) 1864-1949


Gou Xi was the leading master of landscape painting during the second half of the eleventh century. He served as an artist in the imperial academy under Emperor Shenzong (reigned 1067-85), where he filled commissions to paint large works for palace rooms and halls. Guo Xi specialized in the detailed style of ink landscape painting developed in the preceding century by Li Cheng (919-967), with whom his name is often linked.

Becoming one of the main currents of Chinese landscape painting, the Li-Guo style is characterized by sharp, animated brushwork in the foreground rendered in subtle gradations of ink--such as the figures, huts, and trees in this work--and the contrasting use in the background of diffuse texture strokes and layered ink washes to achieve a moody, atmospheric richness. Executed in the early twelfth century, this unsigned painting is one of the earliest handscrolls in the Li-Guo style to survive. A follower of Daoism, Guo Xi practiced a kind of meditation before each creation. By painting the idea or mood of a landscape, rather than its physical appearance, he sought to elicit in the viewer the same mental and emotional response that a visit to the actual location might produce. As he once explained:

In the springtime mountains, misty clouds string out forever; one feels happy and glad. In the summer mountains, splendid trees abound in shade; one feels peaceful and content. In the autumn mountains, brightness and clarity quiver and fall; one is serious and solemn. In the winter mountains, darkness and murk cover and enclose; one is quiet and contemplative. Looking at a certain painting puts you in a certain mood, as if you were actually there in those mountains. This is the mood of a painting beyond the scene it depicts. You see a white path in the green mist and think you are traveling it. You see the sunset over a level stream and think you are viewing it. You see the recluse, the guest of the hills, and think you are dwelling there. You see the cliffside cave, the stones of a spring, and think you are roaming there. Looking at a certain painting puts you in a certain state of mind, as if you were actually present in that very place. This is the magic of a painting beyond the mood it imparts."

Translation by Stephen D. Allee


To learn more about this and similar objects, visit Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

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Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
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