Gong Xian spent his youth wandering the country as a result of the wars being waged at the time. He settled in Nanjing in his old age and became known as one of the Eight Masters of Jinling (the former name of Nanjing). In his paintings, black and white spaces are clearly distinguished from one another, producing a strong effect that contrasts solidity and emptiness. His works are divided into two types: "White Gong" and "Black Gong". The former has light and slightly glossy ink tones, while the latter is achieved by rubbing one layer of ink on top of another, yet with each remaining clearly distinct. This landscape combines the black and white characteristics of Gong's style, strong contrasts being the obvious mark of Gong's later works. The picture is a blend of reality and fantasy. The cave in the mountains is brought out by a black-and-white contrast, arousing curiosity as well as apprehension. Close up, the separate layers that have been produced by a skilful application of repeated dots can be distinguished, but viewed from a distance the effect creates a blurred and obscure image, suggesting lushness and moisture.

Object Information

Date Created:

Not dated

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Xubaizhai Collection of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy


26.6 x 400 cm


Gong Xian (1619 - 1689)


Handscroll, Ink on paper (section)


Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)


Chinese landscape painting


Hong Kong Museum of Art