(Chinese, active mid-1700s)
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Painting only: 187 x 256.5 cm (73 5/8 x 101 in.); Overall with knobs: 270 x 284 cm (106 5/16 x 111 13/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2019.167
Few works by the Yuan workshops in Yangzhou present a continuous composition of such monumental scale as this hanging scroll. Road to Shu (in Sichuan province) depicts the trade of goods over long distances and through mountainous terrain. Busy travelers lead mules over footbridges, mountain paths wind along steep slopes, and soaring bridges connect peaks divided by deep gorges.
The Yuan studios produced paintings to decorate the residences of wealthy Yangzhou salt merchants and princely palaces. The title Road to Shu refers to the historical drama of the flight of Tang emperor Xuanzong (reigned 712–56) to Sichuan in the aftermath of the An Lushan Rebellion (755–63). At the same time, the scenery alludes to Anhui, the mountainous native country of many of the salt merchants and their trade routes in northern parts of the empire.
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