Summer Mountains

Artist: Attributed to Qu Ding (Chinese, active ca. 1023–ca. 1056)

Period: Northern Song dynasty (960–1127)

Date: ca. 1050

Culture: China

Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on silk

Dimensions: Image: 17 7/8 × 45 3/8 in. (45.4 × 115.3 cm)
Overall with mounting: 18 1/4 in. × 23 ft. 2 in. (46.4 × 706.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973

Accession Number: 1973.120.1


Between 900 and 1100, Chinese painters created landscapes that "depicted the vastness and multiplicity" of creation itself. Viewers of these works are meant to identify with a human figure in the painting, allowing them to "walk through, ramble, or dwell" in the landscape. In this landscape, lush forests suffused with mist identify the time as a midsummer evening. Moving from right to left, travelers make their way toward a temple retreat, where vacationers are seated together enjoying the view. Above the temple roofs the central mountain sits majestically, the climax to man's universe. The advanced use of texture strokes and ink wash suggest that Summer Mountains, formerly attributed to Yan Wengui (active ca. 970–1030), is by a master working in the Yan idiom around 1050, a date corroborated by the presence of collectors' seals belonging to the Song emperor Huizong (r. 1101–25). Although there is no record of any painting by Yan Wengui in Huizong's collection, three works entitled Summer Scenery by Yan's eleventh-century follower Qu Ding are listed in the emperor's painting catalogue.