Streams and Mountains



Xu Ben 徐賁

(Chinese, 1335–1380)
Image: 92.2 x 37.6 cm (36 5/16 x 14 13/16 in.); Overall: 228 x 54.5 cm (89 3/4 x 21 7/16 in.)
Location: not on view
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An attendant opens a reed gate to welcome the scholar with a walking stick approaching the rustic retreat.


Like many literati of the late Yuan and early Ming dynasties, Xu Ben was entangled with the perils of dynastic change as well as the ups and downs of his official career. It was mainly through the art of painting and poetry, as well as the ideal of reclusion, that he sought feelings of exhilaration and shared them with his friends.

Xu created this monumental landscape during one of his periods of reclusion. His innumerable “hemp-fiber” texture strokes create a unifying rhythm among the towering mountains with tightly knit masses of rocks. Nestled among shady trees at the base of the mountain is a rustic retreat, which a scholar approaches on foot to visit with the hermit.

Among the five inscriptions at the top of the painting is one by the artist himself. He dedicated the painting to someone named Jifu 吉夫 and recorded a poem in praise of mountains.
Green trees, yellow orioles, everywhere are mountains;
Aimlessly I return from the stream, where I watched the clouds.
Man's life does not allow unbroken ease,
But to be able to be high up in the mountain, this is leisure.
Streams and Mountains

Streams and Mountains


Xu Ben

(Chinese, 1335–1380)
China, Yuan dynasty (1271-1368)

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