Autumn Colors among Streams and Mountains

(溪山秋色圖)

Attributed to Zhao Ji (1082–1135), Song Dynasty (960–1279)

Hanging scroll, ink and light color on paper, 97 x 53 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       This painting has layers of rising peaks with shoals and slopes in the lower half of the composition. The peaks are rounded and shaded with washes of light ink to give the effect of misty waters, imbuing a lyrical quality to the idea of this landscape. Although the cipher and “Yushu (御書)” seal of the Song emperor Huizong are on this painting, most of the landscape elements are located in the lower left part, an arrangement that differs from the centralized landscape manner of the Northern Song period. Stylistically speaking, it would instead appear to date from the early Southern Song period (1127–1279). In fact, this work represents a transition in period style from monumental Northern Song landscapes to the more lyrical atmosphere of Southern Song ones. The brushwork is quite refined, featuring a combination of the Li-Guo (Li Cheng and Guo Xi) school of brush and ink with the harmony of light ink in literati painting, giving this work special importance artistically.