Wang Hui (Chinese, 1632–1717)
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
44 1/2 x 17 3/4 in. (113 x 45.1 cm)
Inscribed by the artist
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.141)
Freely adapting elements traditionally associated with Juran (active ca. 960–85)—conical mountains defined by "hemp-fiber" texture strokes and topped by dense groves or clusters of boulders interspersed with foliage dots—Wang has dematerialized the tenth-century master's substantial forms by paring down motifs, flattening forms into calligraphic patterns, and using subtly graded ink washes to evoke a serene landscape cloaked in clouds and mist. While the painting's moist atmosphere is characteristic of Juran, the seamless progression of repeated triangular hills from front to back reveals Wang's method of integrating pictorial elements within a zigzag compositional pattern he called a "dragon vein." Done when the artist was only thirty, the luminous ink tones and perfectly controlled lyrical composition are characteristic of works from the artist's early period.