Mi Fu , (Chinese, 1052-1107)
Southern Song-Yuan dynasty
Ink on silk
H: 150.0 W: 78.8 cm
Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1908.171
The short quotation from Confucius inscribed at the top of the painting was ostensibly written by Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty (reigned 110025), in whose court Mi Fu once served: "[Before] heaven sends down the seasonal rains, mountains and rivers put forth clouds." The passage metaphorically defines the relationship between the benevolent rule of a sage king and the prior appearance of wise ministers to advise him. The quotation therefore adds a philosophical dimension to the work and was aptly selected both to describe the misty landscape of the painting and to laud Mi Fu as a valued servant of the throne.
The painting was also greatly admired by an illustrious previous owner, the Ming dynasty painter, calligrapher and art historian Dong Qichang (15551636), who provided a title calligraphy at the top and colophons on either side.
To learn more about this and similar objects, visit Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.