Chen Hongshou / The Mountain of Five Cataracts / 1624-1625Chen Hongshou
The Mountain of Five Cataracts

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Creator Name: Chen, Hongshou
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: 1598 - 1652
Gender: M
Creator Name-CRT: Chen Hongshou
Title: The Mountain of Five Cataracts
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1624
Creation End Date: 1625
Creation Date: 1624-1625
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: hanging scroll, ink on silk
Dimensions: Overall: 118.3cm x 53.2cm
Inscriptions: Artist's signature and seal at middle right edge: Hung-shou [seal] Chang-hou.1 inscription and 6 additional seals: 1 inscription and 5 seals of Kao Shih-ch'i (1645-1704); 1 double seal (undecipherable).Inscription by Kao Shih-ch'i:The Mountain of the Five Cataracts is bordered by three prefectures--Wu [Chin-hua], Hang [Hangchou], and Yüeh [Shao-hsing]--and is quite close to Chi-yang [Chu-chi] in Yüeh. The landscape there is extraordinary and precipitous, with ridges and peaks standing in circles. Rocks of strange shapes gaze down everywhere, while maple and bamboo provide shade. The water from five pools overflows and is suspended in five steps--that is why it is called "Five Cataracts." Hsieh Hsüan-ch'ing [Hsieh T'iao, ca. 464-499] of the Ch'i Dynasty gathered medicinal herbs here; Tiao Yo [11th century] of the Sung Dynasty also visited here; Sung Lien [1310-1381] and Hsü Wei [1521-1593] both wrote travel notes about the place; and Ch'en Hung-shou painted here. His mountains are done in the style of the Six Dynasties masters; the trees are after those of Tung Yüan [Five Dynasties]--the painting seems to be richly imbued with the primeval spirit. Hsü Wei said that the grotto is unique for the shade (yin) and the five cataracts unusual for the sun (yang). There are seventy-two peaks, with a ravine between two cliffs. At times they are bright and at other times, gloomy; sometimes they seem to be open, sometimes closed, yet often border uniquely between shady (yin) and sunny (yang). Chang-hou [Ch'en Hung-shou] really succeeded in capturing that spirit.As a young man indulgently boating through Shan-yin [Shao-hsing],I became familiar with the beauty of the Five Cataracts.The cold streams, when level, become pools clear as crystal.Pouring foam mingled with flying waterfall,Its shapes constantly changing.Water would flow downward without a sound,Or become raging billows emitting echoes.Sometimes the wind from the sky would wail,The green forest during the day would turn dark.Sometimes it was dangerous and difficult to ascend,For the moss was slippery on the stone steps in those precipitous cliffs.After reading the travel notes of Sung [Lien] and Hsü [Wei],I'm afraid their descriptions are incomplete.Yet when Lao-lein [Ch'en Hung-shou] was seized with the inspiration to paint,His brush and ink moved with exhilaration.It is as if mists have risenFrom a hot cooking pot, gradually opened.By hanging this on a plain wall,One can clearly listen to the quiet night.At the end of the year, ice and snow are deep;The cold air in the quiet studio is frozen.Near the fireplace, I make with it a silent, spiritual acquaintanceBurning incense and striking a lucid ch'ing [stone chime].On the eighteenth day of the twelfth month in the i-mou year of the K'ang-hsi era [1699]. Chiang-ts'un, Kao Shih-ch'i. Chu-ch'uang inscribed this at Che in the Chien-ching studio. It was the third day after the beginning of spring. trans. LYSL/HK/WKH
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1966.366
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Provenance: Kuan Mien-chün; Walter Hochstadter
AMICA ID: CMA_.1966.366
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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