Inscription of artist in upper right corner: Conversing in the midst of the autumn mountains, painted for Mr. Po-an (Ch'iu-luo hua shan-yao hua-wei Po-an nien-wêng). Seals of artist in upper right corner: Cha Chi-tso yin, I-huang shih.
A small gathering of buildings is nestled at the bottom of a tall, rounded mountain range. Slightly above the settlement, two travelers make their way along the mountain path. A few trees crow up out of the mountains. The mountain range near the small village cuts diagonally across the picture plane, from bottom left to middle right. The top left of the image also contains mountains, taller still. Across from these on the top right is calligraphic text and two seals.
Zha Jizuo, from the southeastern province of Zhejiang, was a scholar and much-sought after educator. His work, which is quite rare, reveals his deep veneration for the Yuan dynasty literati master, Huang Gongwang (1269–1354). Huang championed a simple aesthetic (as opposed to the flashy or slick) for scholar-artists, and Zha’s landscape is faithful to his artistic values. Zha painted this work for a friend, Zhou Lianggong (1612–1672), who rescued Zha from imprisonment by the Manchu government after Zha had been falsely accused of inciting rebellion. The two tiny figures on a half-blocked, rocky path on the hill could very well represent the artist and his ally.
Signed LR: D. Spiegel Stamped LL: Federal Art Project NYC WPA Addt'l markings: signed on plate LL: D. Spiegel Inscribed LRC: 20 Original NY FAP label in file, stamped in blue: OCT 16 1939 Stamped in black: OCT 16 1939
Inscribed, verso bottom: Dorigen cursing the rocks, (in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales)/ A Study by Edward Burne-Jones for his water colour picture in the Ionides bequest V.+ A. Museum (mainly for the drapery)/ given to me soon after 1870 TM \ Rooke.
The south flank of a church is seen through the branches of leafless trees. A central tower over the entrance dominates the upper portion of the composition. In the foreground, a curving rail indicates a path leading up to the side of the building; seated just to the left of the church are several people seated on a park bench.
Whistler had proposed a series of lithographs of London churches but only St. Anne's and St. Giles-in-the-Fields were realized. Located in Soho, St. Giles was built by Henry Flitcroft between 1731-1733.
A man stands within a wooden building, postioned half-way down a deep vista that goes all the way through the building. At the far end of the passageway, a seated figure faces out looking at water and buildings on the opposite shore. The standing man's figure is illuminated by a bright (unseen) overhead light source, such as a skylight, and pairs of ladders are visible on either side of his figure. The foreground of the image consists of dark timbers that frame the view of the passageway and figures; beyond the man, the wooden architecture becomes a jumble of different sloped ceilings and walls, suggesting that this part of the building was constructed at different times or ad hoc.
Whistler repeatedly experimented with doorways framing views and with the dramatic chiaroscuro juxtapositions of light and dark passages. In this image of a warehouse in London, Whistler creates great visual tension between the densely worked timbers of the foreground 'frame' and the limpid quality of the light around the figure of Mr. Jones and the small triangle of light on the floor.