Lofty Scholars in a Wintry Forest

Maker(s)
Artist: Wen Zhengming 文徵明 (1470-1559)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1546
Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
H x W (image): 190.9 x 78.7 cm (75 3/16 x 31 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1989.7
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

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

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
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.