Huang Binhong developed a distinctive painting style for landscapes that employed dense brushwork, intensive use of accent strokes, and complex compositions. This mountainous landscape painted in 1925 combines the two essential concerns that guided Huang Binhong’s artistic production throughout his entire lifetime, namely, drawing from life (xiesheng) and imitating old masters (lingu). He believed that it was only through the rigorous practice of both that an artist could truly reveal the inner beauty of both nature and tradition.
In addition to employing the age-old theme of mountains and water, Huang Binhong here also invoked the past in his inscription, which repeats a poem written by the artist Qian Xuan (1235-circa 1305) on one of his own landscape compositions. The poem celebrates the beauty of the green landscape and the clearness of the Yangzi river waters. Yet, Huang modernized tradition by presenting the vista from a single viewpoint, set high above the scenery, a convention not found in earlier times.