The Red Cliff

Full Title: 
赤壁圖卷; The Red Cliff
Ink and color on silk
30.9 cm (height) x 128.8 cm (length)
The composition of the handscroll is unusual in placing the focal point – the boat passing by Red Cliff – quite abruptly in the beginning without a visual introduction. (It is possible that the painting has been reduced from its original length because of damage in the past.) While the right side of the handscroll is densely populated with rocks, cliffs, and trees that frame the depiction of the boat, the long remainder shows a broadening expanse of water framed by a low shoreline and mountains in the background. As opposed to other paintings in the handscroll format that emphasize Su Shi's visit to the site, the Boston scroll clearly emphasizes the landscape. A similar composition, however with the boat passing by Red Cliff in the center of the handscroll, attributed to the Jin dynasty (1115-1234) painter Wu Yuanzhi (active late 12th century) is in the collection of the National Palace Museum Taipei.
Repository Accession Number: 
Keith McLeod Fund
Description Source: 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;
Scrolls Project ID: 
728 359