Summer Mountains (夏山圖)
Attributed to Qu Ding (屈鼎, active ca. 1023-1056), Song Dynasty (960-1279)
Handscroll, ink and color on silk, 45.5 x 115.3 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Between the years 900 and 1100, Chinese painters created visions of landscape that depicted the sublimity of creation. Viewers are meant to identify with the human figures in these paintings. In Summer Mountains, travelers make their way toward a temple retreat. The central mountain sits in commanding majesty, like an emperor among his subjects, the culmination of nature’s hierarchy. The advanced use of texture strokes and ink wash suggests that Summer Mountains is by a master working about 1050, a date corroborated by collectors’ seals belonging to the Song emperor Huizong (r. 1101–25), whose paintings catalogue records three works entitled Summer Scenery by the otherwise unknown artist Qu Ding.