Lofty Scholars in a Wintry Forest

Artist: Wen Zhengming ζ–‡εΎ΅ζ˜Ž (1470-1559)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1546
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 190.9 x 78.7 cm (75 3/16 x 31 in)
Credit Line
Purchase β€” Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), scholar, winter, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Christie's (New York)


This painting, executed when Wen Zhengming was seventy-six years old, represents the vigorous style that the artist achieved in the last two decades of his life and belies any notion that strength diminishes with age. Two scholars engaged in conversation are the subject of the painting, while the dense tapestry of interlocked wintry branches overhead animates the landscape, imbuing the painting with a sense of intense energy. Wen Zhengming's earlier paintings often exhibit a more direct representation of nature than seen here. For this scroll, in contrast, the artist worked to translate the natural forms of growing branches into calligraphic brushwork that in its kinesthetic rhythms evokes the inner force of nature. All the elements of the landscape interlock tightly to create a strong, surface-oriented image pulsating with its own inner vitality, an effect that was the highest goal of the scholar-painter.

Published References
  • Fine Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy. New York, November 30, 1988. lot 30.
  • Les Trois Reves du Mandarin. Exh. cat. Brussels. cat. 133, p. 157.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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