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Winter Solstice

Yuan Jiang

This Sunday marks the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice, otherwise known as the shortest day of the year. And while you might not bat an eye as the day comes and goes, throughout history solstices have been considered auspicious times of transition.

This Chinese hanging scroll was inscribed with the text “On winter’s solstice of the year dingyou [1717], painted by Yuan Jiang of Hanshang [Yanghou]” and features an aristocratic villa and its surrounding wintry landscape. Yuan Jiang was a professional artist most renowned for his “ruled-line painting” which employed both carpenter’s tools and a flexible brush. His meticulous draftsmanship is best seen in the contrast between the strong horizontal lines of the house and both the garden of craggy rocks in the foreground and the mist-shrouded mountains in the background.

But chin up, Chicago! The winter solstice just means that it’s all downhill from here. Summer is basically around the corner. Right?!

Image Credit: Yuan Jiang. Villa in a Wintry Landscape, dated 1717. Gift of Naomi Donnelley.