Xiao Yuncong was named Xiao Long as a child and was born into a gentry family in Wuhu in central Anwei. The night before his birth, his father was said to have dreamed that his son would be the reincarnation of the tenth century artist Guo Zhongshan. Xiao Yuncong succeeded in all but the highest level of civil service exams, while also becoming an accomplished poet, musician and landscape and figure painter. After his home was destroyed in 1647 during the fall of the Ming dynasty, Xiao devoted himself to painting and became one of the most versatile and prolific of the early Anwei masters. As seen in this handscroll, Xiao Yuncong used the dry brushwork and natural elements reduced to geometric shapes to create sparse landscapes typical of Anwei artists and in particular Hongren (1610-1664). These characteristics, rendered in a similar fashion, are found in a landscape painting in a ten leaf album, dated 1654, in the Shanghai Museum (Shanghai People's Fine Art Press,
Zhongguo Meishu Quanji, vol 9, Shanghai, 1988, p. 33). A somewhat more monumental landscape of mountains and rivers was painted by Xiao Yuncong in 1669 and is now in the Los Angeles County Museum. Similar landscapes created from natural motives conveyed by outlined shapes colored with pale pigments are common to both handscrolls (James Cahill, ed. Shadows of Mount Huang: Chinese Painting of the Anhui School, Berkeley, 1981, fig. 17).
See a similar landscape handscroll, sold at Sotheby's New York, 19 March 2015, lot 435.