Between the years 900 and 1100, Chinese painters created visions of landscape that depicted the sublimity of creation. Viewers are meant to identify with the human figures in these paintings. In Summer Mountains, travelers make their way toward a temple retreat. The central mountain sits in commanding majesty, like an emperor among his subjects, the culmination of nature’s hierarchy. The advanced use of texture strokes and ink wash suggests that Summer Mountains is by a master working about 1050, a date corroborated by collectors’ seals belonging to the Song emperor Huizong (r. 1101–25), whose paintings catalogue records three works entitled Summer Scenery by the otherwise unknown artist Qu Ding.
Inscription: No artist’s inscription, signature, or seal
Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, undated:
This elegant painting is very old; The Xuanhe seals [of the Song emperor Huizong, r. 1101–1125] makes it even more precious. The objects [in the painting] appear full of life, As if the trees and rocks were drawn from nature. The lush foliage of the summer mountains is moist; The sunny gorges hum with increasing waves. Perching hundreds of feet high, the pavilions appear spacious. How would it feel to lean on a railing and enjoy this view? Imperially inscribed in the first lunar month of the wuchen year (1748).