Waterways cascade down the distant mountains to be gathered into a river that runs through a valley with houses and paths along its banks. Particular attention was paid to the creation of patterns in the groves of trees, in their foliage, and in the structure of the hills. These textures visually activate the surface of the painting, creating interest in a scene devoid of narrative, save for the single figure with staff who makes his way up the winding path. Done in ink alone, the painting is yet rich with the pleasures of ink and brush.
Pan Cheng is recorded in the Tuhui baojian xuzuan of about 1680: “…called Roshui, he was from Suzhou (in Jiangsu province). In landscape painting he followed Shen Shitian (Shen Zhou) with a style that was strong and virile.”1 Pan Cheng was a worthy successor to that tradition, and it is unfortunate that so few of his paintings survived into modern times.
1. Tuhui baojian xuzuan Huashi congshu edition, vol. 2, p. 899.