Wang Meng / The Simple Retreat / Yuan dynasty (1279?1368), ca. 1370Wang Meng
The Simple Retreat
Yuan dynasty (1279?1368), ca. 1370

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China ca. 1308?1385
Creator Name-CRT: Wang Meng
Title: The Simple Retreat
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 1360
Creation End Date: 1380
Creation Date: Yuan dynasty (1279?1368), ca. 1370
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Dimensions: H. 53 1/2 in. (136 cm), W. 17 3/4 in. (45 cm)
Inscriptions: Signed: "The Yellow Crane Mountain Woodcutter Wang Meng painted this for the lofty scholar of the Simple Retreat"

Wang Meng depicted scholars in their retreats, creating imaginary portraits that capture not the physical likeness of a person or place but rather an interior world of shared associations and ideals. He presents the master of The Simple Retreat as a gentleman recluse. Seated at the front gate of a rustic hermitage, he is shown holding a magic fungus, as a servant and two deer approach from the woods. In the courtyard, another servant offers a sprig of herbs to a crane. The auspicious Daoist imagery of fungus, crane, and deer as well as the archaic simplicity of the figures and dwelling evoke a dreamlike vision of paradise .

In creating this visionary world, Wang transformed the monumental landscape imagery of the tenth-century master Dong Yuan. Rocks and trees, animated with fluttering texture strokes, dots, color washes, and daubs of bright mineral pigment, pulse with a calligraphic energy barely contained within the traditional landscape structure. Encircled by this energized mountainscape, the retreat becomes a reservoir of calm at the vortex of a world whose dynamic configurations embody nature's creative potential but may also suggest the ever-shifting terrain of political power.

AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: L.1997.24.8
Credit Line: Ex coll.: C.C. Wang Family, Promised Gift of the Oscar L. Tang Family
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
AMICA ID: MMA_.L.1997.24.8
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved

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