In accord with the artist’s poem, a traveler with staff strolls on a path through the mountains, pausing to enjoy the variegated colors of the tree foliage before him. In the distance a sea of clouds covers the bases of serried ranges of mountains.
Zheng Zhong was born in Shexian, Anhui province, site of the famous Huangshan or Yellow Mountain and home of Tiandu Peak, a name appearing in one of Zheng Zhong’s bynames. In 1614 Zheng submitted a painting to the Wanli emperor in Beijing and was called to the capital to do further work for a grateful ruler. In later years Zheng did wall paintings for temples in Hangchou and, especially, Nanjing, where he lived for a number of years. Beijing fell to the invading Manchus in 1644, and it is most likely that Zheng was already home in Anhui again by the time he painted the present, very charming and evocative painting.