宋 范宽 雪景寒林图轴
Snow-Covered Scene and Cold Forest
Height 193.5cm, Width 160.3cm
The Northern Song dynasty was a peak in the development of traditional landscape painting, producing the historically renowned Three Masters of Landscape, one of whom was the Shaanxi painter Fan Kuan. His Northern Landscape school depictions of the majesty and grandeur of the northern landscapes had a deep influence on subsequent generations of artists. This monumental hanging scroll is imbued with a sense of lofty grandeur, painted across three pieces of silk. It is one of the few surviving works by Fan Kuan. The dense composition and intense, heavy brush strokes render a lively depiction of the threatening cold, felt after a snowfall on the rivers and peaks of the Qinling and Longshan mountains. The intensity of the scene feels pregnant with potential. This is an extremely rare and valuable piece.
While the exact dates of Fan Kuan’s birth and death are not clear, it is known that he lived during the Northern Song period. His style name was Zhong Li, and he was a native of Huayuan (modern day Yao County) in Shaanxi. He was a skilled painter of landscapes, initially studying under Li Cheng and Jing Hao. However, he later came to realise that “nature was a superior teacher to man” and took up residence on Mount Taihua in the Zhongnan range. Here Fan Kuan immersed himself in the grandeur of the landscape through a long period of observation and painting from life. Critics have said his landscapes “obtained the bones”, meaning that he captured the essential form of the mountain.