Arts and Culture
Zhao Yong was Zhao Mengfu’s son and naturally his colophons have been considered as a sign of authority and authenticity on his father’s paintings. Two paintings, Horse and Groom in the Metropolitan Museum and Mind Landscape of Xie Youyu in the Princeton University Art Museum, stand out among Zhao Mengfu’s paintings for this reason, and both have secured a hallowed place in the history of Chinese painting, defining junctures in horse painting and landscape painting respectively. Because of the close correspondence in calligraphy of the colophons, and because no other trustworthy calligraphies in regular script by Zhao Yong are known, the colophons have never been in question. A recent discovery of a stele inscription written by Zhao Yong, however, casts doubt on the authenticity of the colophons, and therefore on the identification of the Zhao Mengfu paintings as well. This study will argue that the Zhao Yong colophons are early Ming forgeries and that the identity and meaning of the Zhao Mengfu paintings should be reconsidered, at least with regard to the Mind Landscape of Xie Youyu. On the basis of an iconographic analysis and textual documentations, this study will argue that the Princeton painting does not depict Xie Youyu but instead Zhao Mengfu’s teacher and famous Daoist master Du Daojian (1237-1318) practicing a specific type of Daoist meditation of the Shangqing tradition, and should date to 1303 or close thereafter.