Qian Xuan

Series: The Royal Collection of Imperial China

Detail of the handscroll

Artist: Qian Xuan
Period: Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368)
Medium: Handscroll
Dimensions: 96.5 × 22 cm
Price: $199.95
ISBN: 978-1-4878-0186-1
(Collected by the Palace Museum)


Color on paper; length 26.5 cm, width 112 cm

This painting depicts cottages in a village near Pinghu Lake. In the distance, with a cloudy sky as a backdrop, the mountains are dotted with cottages scattered among trees. There are few people in the painting, and only a couple of fishing boats on the lake. It is a scene of a mountain retreat far away from the worldly hustle and bustle, representing an ideal state of scholarly tranquility.


Qian Xuan (c. 1239–c. 1300) was a late-Song and early-Yuan Dynasty painter, known by several aliases, including Shunju, Yutan, the Man of Zhachuan, and the Man of Xilan. He hailed from Huzhou (present day Wuxing, Zhejiang Province). During the Jingding period of the Southern Song Dynasty, he gained his title in the official exam just as the dynasty ended. He remained loyal to the old court, living and painting in retreat. He excelled at human figures, bird and flower paintings, vegetables and fruits, and landscapes, which he painted with soft, meticulous brush strokes and elegant colors, drawing upon the scholarly “world” style of the Southern Song Dynasty for decoration. He advocated “scholarliness” in painting, in an attempt to break away from the outdated practice of Southern Song academia. He also advocated following the styles of the Northern Song, Five Dynasties, and Tang periods.