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Xu Boling 徐伯齡
(1st half 17th century)

“Serried Mountains” 1611

Hanging scroll, ink and color on satin
193.0 x 63.0 cm. (76 x 24 13/16 in.)

“Looking toward the end of winter
early blossoms appear beside the road;
following the cliff cold water
is heard stopping at the grove.
During winter of the year 1611, I arrived at the Pavilion of Thousand Deer and met the cold from the heavens that froze my hands; I could not work (well).”

Artist’s seal:
Longyun ru Yantian (“Dragons in Clouds enter the Inkstone Field”)

The monumental composition features dynamic groves of trees in the river-side foreground, a stream-side village in the middle ground, and extensive, serried peaks rising above. The composition is mainly symmetrical, arranged around the vertical and horizontal axes of the painting, harking back to 10th-century styles and also to their 14th-century, Yuan dynasty revivals. The brushwork recalls that of Wu Zhen and his Ming follower Shen Zhou, and identifies the artist as one who was very knowledgeable about historic styles and yet one who creatively extended that hallowed literati tradition into the late Ming era.

Xu Boling was born in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, into an eminent literati family. His father, Xu Hongze (1551-1625 or later) was a well-known calligrapher and painter, a friend of Chen Jiru and Li Rihua. Boling passed the juren examination in 1620 and served as a teacher in a provincial school. Accomplished in poetry and painting, in 1629 he contributed to a joint album along with Xiang Shengmo.


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