, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), dated 1711
Wang Yuanqi (Chinese, 1642–1715)
Handscroll; ink and color on paper
14 X 214 9/16 in. (35.6 X 545 cm)
Artist's inscriptions mounted in front of and following painting
Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family
Purchase, Douglas Dillon Gift, 1977 (1977.80)
Wang Yuanqi's inscription reads:
On the right is Youcheng's [Wang Wei's] Wangchuan Villa. Having written twenty poems of five-word regulated verse to describe the scenes, [Wang Wei] also painted this composition. In the art of the "Six Principles" [i.e., painting], it was Youcheng who first mastered [the secret of] "breath-movement-life-motion," capturing the true composition of the universe. Jing [Hao], Guan [Tong], and Fan [Kuan] of the Northern Song, as well as Gao [Kegong], Zhao [Mengfu], and the Four Masters [Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, and Wang Meng] of the Yuan, all followed [Wang Wei's] ideas, each inheriting the "lamp-flame" and becoming a great master of the Orthodox tradition. Since the Southern Song period, there have been a great many known painters competing with each other like flowers on a piece of brocade, each of them of a different stature, school, and tradition. Though a student might broaden himself by using these different traditions to fill out [his education], were he to mistake this as his sole training, he would then have attained merely the dregs of the ancient tradition, and not its inner essence.
During the three hundred years of the Ming dynasty, only Dong Siweng [Dong Qichang] succeeded in sweeping away the web of confusion. My late grandfather Fengchang [Wang Shimin] personally inherited the [Orthodox] mantle [from Dong]. As I used to attend [my grandfather] in my youth, I have learned a few things [about painting]. In recent years, I have become acquainted with the elderly gentleman Zhiweng. When I painted for him Lu Hong's Ten Views from a Thatched Hut, about three years ago, I had promised that I would someday paint also the long handscroll composition Wangchuan [by Wang Wei]. Since I had not then had access to a reliable sketch of the composition, I did not dare to tackle it from ignorance. Last autumn, I acquired a popular stone engraving [of the composition]. Using the poems found in [Wang Wei's] collected works as a reference, I made this scroll with my own ideas, so that it is different from a copy of "physical likeness" [xingsi] by a professional painter. Nine whole months have since passed. During every leisure hour away from official duties, I have worked on it. By adding poetry to the ink engraving, I have been able to see the wonders of Youcheng's designs of yang and yin, their ever-changing forms and steps. Though some may think that my work is clumsy and inferior, I believe that it has captured some of [Wang Wei's] idea of "painting in poetry and poetry in painting." Will not the Master [Zhiweng] have a chuckle over this?
Inscribed in the eleventh day of the sixth lunar month of the xinmao year of the Kangxi [reign era] [July 26, 1711] by Wang Yuanqi of Loudong.
(translation after Marilyn Fu and Shen Fu, in In Pursuit of Antiquity (Princeton, 1969), pp. 2034)