Exhibitions/ Art Object

明/清 弘仁 雲根丹室圖 軸
Cinnabar Chamber Deep in the Mountains

Hongren (Chinese, 1610–1664)
late Ming (1368–1644) or early Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
dated 1656
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Image: 57 7/8 x 40 3/16 in. (147 x 102 cm)
Credit Line:
Lent by The Chih Lo Lou Collection, Hong Kong
Not on view
Hongren was the most important and original of the Anhui School artists. A filial son, he may have joined the resistance movement against the Manchu invaders before renouncing all worldly ties by becoming a Buddhist monk. His landscape painting, inspired by the spare linear style of the recluse-artist Ni Zan (1306–1374) and by the chiseled topography of Anhui’s Yellow Mountain, made him a leading individualist artist of the time.

This large scroll superbly embodies Hongren’s synthetic approach to painting. The central rock mass evokes eleventh-century monumental landscapes; the modular geometric structure of the central bluff and dry crumbly brushwork recall fourteenth-century masters’ formal experiments; and the arbitrary manipulation of scale reflects the late Ming disregard of naturalism.

Hongren painted this work as a birthday present for a friend. In his inscription he wishes the recipient longevity and refers to the main structure in the painting as the cinnabar chamber where the elixir of immortality was produced.

cat. no. 40
Ho Iu-kwong (He Yaoguang) Chinese, 1907–2006
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Art of Dissent in 17th-Century China: Masterpieces of Ming Loyalist Art from the Chih Lo Lou Collection," September 6, 2011–January 2, 2012.