Dong Qichang constructed this landscape around a powerful sense of movement that begins with the twisted evergreen that dominates the foreground and thrusts upward into the conical hills above. The pronounced diagonal slope of the hills, trees, and buildings at the upper left provides a dynamic counterforce to the vertical composition. This contrast–vertical against diagonal, straight against twisted–is continued throughout the composition and seems to reflect a long-standing involvement with a constructivist approach to landscape that Dong derived from Huang Gongwang, a Yuan dynasty master. Dong’s forceful landscape paintings were paralleled by equally forceful critical writings on art, allowing him to dominate the history of later Chinese painting.
Handbook of the Collections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 298, ill.
David Ake Sensabaugh, The Scholar as Collector: Chinese Art at Yale, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004), 3031, 44, no. 44, fig. 22.