(China 1744 – 1801)
59.4 x 26.8 cm image; 195.5 x 53.0 cm scroll
The inscription on the top left reads:
"I lack the ability to buy a piece of land, so depend on my inkstone to make a living. Having just returned, I am off again, and so these few words are hurriedly executed. Old friends sympathize, with my clothing stained with dust from travelling and suggest I clean them at the well of the monastery. The mountains and streams are so [beautiful] but I cannot stay; when I turn back to look (once again) at the pines and junipers, I feel empty. I truly admire my friends who are always aroused by a pure spirit, and if there are no plum blossoms to view, they do not venture forth. Mr Menghua invited me to go to the Ge's Garden. So I am about to pack my baggage and leave. The gentlemen of Langzhai Studio and the Ge's Garden are expected to embark on their journey next spring. Therefore I compose these two poems. Huang Yi composed this poem and painted the painting."
The inscription is accompanied by three seals of Huang Yi: 'Huang' (top), 'Yi' and 'Xiaosong' (end of the inscription). There is another Huang Yi seal to the lower right: 'Xiao Penglaige (Little Penglai Pavilion)', and two collectors' seals to the lower left: 'Yibai lan zhai zhuren (Master of the Hundred Orchid Studio)', 'Moshi shoucang (Mo's collection)'.
During the mid Qing dynasty, there was some anxiety that the current calligraphic style had been overshadowed by the suave elegance of Dong Qichang and Zhao Mengfu. Some scholars turned to script and style popular from the bronze inscriptions of the Shang and Zhou dynasties and monuments of the Qin to Northern dynasties period. They wanted to reinvigorate calligraphy with a creative revival of antique styles. Huang Yi was a renowned scholar in this movement. A native of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, he was a prominent archaeologist, seal carver, a collector of antique bronzes, stele of the Han and Northern Wei period, and rubbings made from the old stele. He frequently travelled around the country on stele-collecting study trips. In 1786, he served in a minor official capacity in Shandong where he conducted the excavation of the famous Han dynasty ancestral shrine known as Wuliangci.
Huang Yi was also a well known calligrapher and painter. Most of his landscape paintings echo the themes and stylizations associated with the orthodox tradition. On this painting, a hooded gentleman strolls on a path positioned below a verdant foreground pine. On his right rocky ridges thrust upwards. In the distance is an amazing vista of bamboo-shoot like spires rising into the murky atmosphere. A mood of fantastic scenery in contrast with the lonely and toiling traveller is indeed captured in this painting.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, February 2008.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2007-08, Sydney, 2008, 22 (colour illus.).
One hundred flowers (2011), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Sep 2011–15 Jan 2012
The connoisseur and the philanthropist: 30 years of the Sternberg Collection of Chinese Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 Jan 2014–27 Apr 2014