Ding ranks as one of the pre-eminent masters of inside-painted snuff bottles. Based in Beijing, he served as an official in the Qing government, although it is his work in the area of inside-painted snuff bottles for which he is most recognized today. Ding's range of subject matter was fairly wide, and even among his favorite landscapes, no two are alike. He re-invented the composition with every painting, and drew inspiration from Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming masters. The landscape on this bottle is inspired by the Song style, and the highly effective composition is a reflection of Ding's immense talent.
The height of Ding's career as a snuff bottle painter came in the years 1897, 1898 and 1899 which saw the production of the current bottle in 1898. In reference to another bottle of similar composition, which Ding painted in 1898, Moss, Graham and Tsang point out that his style during this time could be called his "'formal rocks' style, where abstract intentions predominate. It is recognizable, apart from this intention, by the use of large rock forms balanced against smaller boulders set around their bases, even when the distance is indicated by the composition in " A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Hong Kong, 2000, Vol. 4, Part 1, p. 301. The landscape appears to be without human interference, but upon close inspection the viewer can see a vermillion form through the open wall of the pavilion in the foreground, the color which Ding regularly uses to depict scholar's robes. On the reverse side from the scholar, a bridge in the upper left is also highlighted with vermillion, possibly an abstract reference to the earlier path taken by the scholar, or the last rays of a setting sun.