Hostelry in the Mountains


Artist: Yan Ciyu 閻次于 (active 1160s-1180s)
Historical period(s)
Southern Song dynasty, mid- to late 12th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 25.5 x 25.9 cm (10 1/16 x 10 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

China, landscape, Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Tonying and Company
Pang Yuanji 1864-1949


Typical of many Southern Song landscapes, much of the silk in this album leaf is empty while the painted area is concentrated in one corner. This compositional practice reflects the prevailing philosophical concept derived in part from Chan, or Zen, Buddhism that substance emerges from emptiness. The stylistic emphasis on subtle atmospheric effects reinforces this meditative mood. The artist Yan Ciyu and his more famous older brother Ciping presented examples of their painting to Emperor Xiaozong (reigned 1163-90) soon after he ascended the throne. Both brothers were awarded positions in the imperial painting academy and went on to illustrious careers. The small painting, signed on the rocks at lower right, is the only genuine work by Yan Ciyu known to survive.

To learn more about this and similar objects, visit Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 39, p. 158.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 48.
  • James Cahill. Chinese Album Leaves in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Japan, 1961-1962. p. 21, pl. 5.
  • Grace Dunham Guest A.G. Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 13.
  • Song Dynasty Paintings Project. multi-volumed, . .
  • Richard Edwards. The Yen Family and the Influence of Li T'ang. vol. 10 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 86-89, pl. 4, fig. 4.
  • Richard Edwards. The Artist and the Landscape: Changing Views of Nature in Chinese Painting. no. 6 Hong Kong, Spring 1976. pp. 30-52, pl. 24.
  • Hai wai i chen (Chinese Art in Overseas Collections). Taipei, 1985. vol. 1, no. 46.
  • Hsieh Chih-liu. T'ang wu Tsi Sung Yuan ming chi (Noted Paintings of the T'ang, Five Dynasties, Sung and Yuan periods). Shanghai. pl. 82.
  • Laura S. Kaufman. Ippen hijiri-e: Artistic and Literary Sources in a Buddhist Handscroll Painting of Thirteenth Century Japan. Ann Arbor. fig. 179.
  • Thomas Lawton. Notes on Keng Chao-chung. no. 6 Hong Kong, Spring 1976. pl. 90.
  • and Publisher New Orient Society of America. Oriental Art in America: Recent Accessions in American Museums. Chicago. pl. 19.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. p. 90, pl. 265.
  • Smithsonian Institution. Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, 1935. Washington, 1935-1936. appendix 3, pl. 2.
  • Smithsonian Institution. Report of the Secretary, 1935. Washington, 1935-1936. pl. 2.
  • Suiboku bijutsu taikei. 17 vols., Tokyo, 1973-1977. pl. 50.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga shi. 8 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1988. pl. 88.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting). 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. p. 238.
  • Sze Mai-Mai. The Tao of Painting: A Study for the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting. Bollingen Series, no. 49 2 vols., New York. pl. 1.
  • Richard Edwards. The Heart of Ma Yuan: The Search for a Southern Song Aesthetic. Hong Kong. p. 220, fig. 7.12.
  • Mary M. Mcdonald. It Draws Me: The Art of Contemplation. .
  • Harrie A. Vanderstappen. The Landscape Painting of China: Musings of a Journeyman. .
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum