Quiet Life in a Wooded Glen

A work made of hanging scroll; ink and light colors on paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of hanging scroll; ink and light colors on paper.


Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), dated 1361


Wang Meng (王蒙)
Chinese, c. 1308-1385

About this artwork

This modest cottage nestled at the foot of towering mountains presents a quintessential image of academic retreat from the “dusty” world of material concerns and political instabilities. Its cultured occupant kneels on a platform and plays the zither (qin); a book lies open before him and young servants wait attentively nearby. The luxuriant setting of layered peaks and intertwined trees, as well as the dry, charcoal- like treatment of fibrous and dotted boulders, is imbued with a textural richness. This style is closely associated with Wang Meng, the last of the “Four Great Masters” of the Yuan dynasty.

Such a complex, kinetic composition reflects this artist’s distinctive contribution to the literati’s new use of painting as a vehicle for intellectual and emotional self-expression. This concept was largely kindled by social and political upheavals that accompanied the 14th-century Mongol conquest of China and the establishment of the Yuan dynasty. Wang Meng, who had served the Mongol government as a legal scribe, retired to a mountain hermitage in the turbulent final decades of Yuan rule. He may have executed this painting as a metaphorical self-portrait.

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Asian Art


Wang Meng


Quiet Life in a Wooded Glen






Hanging scroll; ink and light colors on paper


Inscriptions: 1. in upper right-hand corner of painting: title in seal characters, followed by dated signature of artist in regular script: "Quiet Life in a Wooded Glen','Tenth day of the third month ofthe xinchou year of the Zhizheng era (1361), painted by Wang Meng'. Seals: 1.Two red seals following the artist's inscription in the upper-right corner of the painting. Upper seal: "Wang Meng"; lower seal: "Shuming" (style-name of Wang Meng). 2. Two red seals in the lower right corner of the painting: collector's seals: one of Wang Jiqian (Wang Shi Jiqian zhencang yin) and one of Li Kefan (Jiaotang Li Kefan jiancang). Colophons: 1. on the mounting above the painting: by Wu Hufan (1894-1968), dated 1938: 'Yuan Wang Shuming Linlu youju tu (Quiet Life in a Wooded Glen by Wang Meng of the Yuan dynasty)'; '...'. Followed by studio seal of Wu Hufan: 'Meijing shuwu (Studio of the Prunus Scene)'.


177.8 × 64.2 cm (70 × 25 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Kate S. Buckingham Endowment Fund

Reference Number


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