Hsieh Tao-ling, from Suchou in Kiangsu province, was known for his bird-and-flower compositions as well as landscapes done in old styles. Much of his pictorial vocabulary was derived from Shen Chou (1427-1509), founder of the Wu or Suchou school of painting.
Attended by a servant carrying a basket of herbs, a scholar pauses on a bridge beneath a pine tree gazing upwards toward his destination, a monastery visible in the mist of a distant valley. Gathering herbs, a practice pursued by both Taoists and Buddhists, was a favorite scholarly pastime. It provided an excuse to interact with nature, which in itself could be a meditative process. The inscription reads:
During a spring day of the year 1612 of the Wan-li reign, painted in the Chan (Buddhist) Grove at Vulture Peak by Hsieh Tao-ling of Wu-chun (Suchou).