In this evocative early Che school painting, a scholar-recluse lying at ease near the edge of a cliff listens to the powerful waterfall that roils and boils above his resting place and crashes into the crevasse below. He has set aside his ku-ch'in
(zither) and book, preferring the entertainment of untamed nature.
The scene and its Sung dynasty manner derive directly from the classic example of the great academy painter Ma Yuan (active 1180-1225), whose style had tremendous influence on Che school painting throughout the Ming period (1368-1644). In this instance, the tight brushwork, solid composition, and relatively coherent space are very close to Sung sources. The theme of the ch'in-playing recluse enjoying a waterfall is perhaps the most popular of all Che school subjects. The painting underscores the conscious early Ming revival of Sung dynasty (960-1279) forms. Looking back on this golden age of Chinese culture was a way of negating the artistic accomplishments (which were many) of the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368), a period of Mongol control.