Hanging scroll; ink and slight color on silk
Painting: 138.2 x 75.2 cm (54 7/16 x 29 5/8 in.); Overall with knobs: 232.5 x 96.3 cm (91 9/16 x 37 15/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1974.45
Escaping to a Better World: Eccentrics and Immortals in Chinese Art (Chinese art rotation)
When the emperor offered him a post overseeing the Nine Territories (as China was known in ancient times), Xu You went to the River Ying to cleanse his ears from such an unwelcome proposition.
Xu You, a recluse who refused the throne offered to him by legendary Emperor Yao, chose instead to farm on Mount Ji. Sitting under cliffs, his left arm resting on his risen leg and his loose robe revealing his belly, he displays a nonchalant attitude. Xu You is wearing a laborer’s outfit, a short robe and tight leggings, while his composed pose and gentle features reveal his lofty character.
The composition shows rising mountains on the left juxtaposed by open space on the far right. Powerful brushstrokes and nuanced ink washes follow the style of the Southern Song (1127–1279) academy painters.
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