Traveling in Mountains

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Traveling in Mountains (關山行旅)

Guan Tong (關仝, fl. mid 10th c.), Five Dynasties (907-960)

Hanging scroll, ink on silk, 144.4x56.8 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       This painting, according to the 1625 inscription by the famous late Ming calligrapher Wang Duo (王鐸) on the lower back of the scroll, is ascribed to Guan Tong, a student of Jing Hao (荊浩). The contents, however, differ from those of “Late Greenery of Autumn Mountains”, depicting scenery of a mountain valley brimming with human activities. Among them, such details as figures traveling, people at an inn, and the livestock and village residents reveal a firm grasp of life in the countryside. It also reminds one of a record in the Northern Song imperial catalogue Xuanhe Manual of Painting (宣和畫譜), describing Guan Tong as painting “village residences and rustic crossings” as well as “fishing markets and mountain stops”. However, in terms of the texturing of the mountains, this work appears slightly simplified and awkward. Although perhaps not an actual work by Guan Tong, it probably belongs to a later generation following his style. There are many repairs to the village part of this work. For instance, the figure in the lower left corner prostrating on the ground is obviously a later addition on the added patch of silk.

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Guan Tong: Traveling in Mountains