Man with beard and moustache sitting on the banks of a stream with his feet in the water; youth stands behind him; dense trees in middle ground and looming peak in background; inscriptions and two seals in upper right corner

Bathing Feet in a Mountain Landscape, c. 1560

expand_more
Not on Viewexpand_more

A poetic prose entitled Yufu or "The Fisherman" written around the 2nd century CE tells a story of a fisherman who tried to convince Qu Yuan to give up his stubborn political ambitions and withdraw from social affairs. He said to Qu Yuan: “When the Canglang’s waters are clear, I can wash my hat-strings in them; When the Canglang’s waters are muddy, I can wash my feet in them.” The implication is, a wise man should seek an official career in good times under a sage king, but withdraw gracefully when times are troubled and the ruler turns immoral. It was this song that gave birth to a common theme in both literature and art, as illustrated in this hanging scroll. It is apparent that to many scholar-officials renunciation did not imply ascetic self-denial; it was rather a state of mind. With such idea, those who "withdrew" could still play active roles in the service of local or state authority. To them landscape paintings such as this would offer a chance to temporarily experience the transformation from bureaucrat to recluse, to seek an awakening, at least for a moment, before returning their life in the office.

The colophon accompanying this view of a scholar relaxing his feet in a mountain stream reads:

In deep seclusion the eastern wind blows fallen blossoms,
The whole river of spring water ripples with cloudy mist;
The wanderer's song has ceased and he is entirely at leisure,
Resting by an old valley pine while the sun has not yet set.

Details
Title
Bathing Feet in a Mountain Landscape
Artist Life
1487 - c.1561
Role
Artist
Accession Number
99.67.4
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.

Man with beard and moustache sitting on the banks of a stream with his feet in the water; youth stands behind him; dense trees in middle ground and looming peak in background; inscriptions and two seals in upper right corner