Snowy Landscape


Snowy Landscape

Paintings / Muromachi

Attributed to Shūbun

Muromachi period, 15th century

Ink and light color on paper


A mountain path twists and turns from the lower left to a mountain valley at the center of the painting. A building resembling a tea house lies along the way. A glance further up reveals a large building toward the center, its roof covered in white snow. This suggests the season is winter. Mountains soar up in the background. A closer inspection shows narrow paths winding up these steep mountains too. This otherworldly landscape almost certainly features motifs based on the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers. Xiaoxiang is the name given to the region where the rivers Xiao and Xiang merge at Lake Dongting in China's Hunan province. Paintings depicting eight scenes of this region - in different seasons and weather, and at different times - are known as the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang.
The evening snow falling on the mountains suggests this painting is depicting the 'River and Sky in Evening Snow' view. Japanese artists used to experiment with their own color schemes while studying Chinese paintings of the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers. Another work depicting the Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers by the renowned artist Hasegawa Tohaku, which is in collection of the Tokyo National Museum, also features mountain paths and buildings arranged in a similar way.
Though mounted as a hanging scroll, this work seems to have been larger once. It is believed to have formed part of a panel painting that depicted the Eight Views stretching out across the walls of a room. The other paintings have sadly been lost, though it is enjoyable to view this picture and imagine what the original scene must have looked like.

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瀟湘 / the / 八景 / Eight

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