Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

The Four Seasons in Chinese Painting

Starr Chinese Galleries

Did you know that we frequently change the works on view in our collection galleries? A new rotation conveys the hopeful expectation of spring, the joy of summer, the colorful exuberance of autumn, and the solitude of winter through Chinese artworks that highlight seasonal changes.

Experience all four seasons in a single day — blossoming peach flowers, a summer rainstorm, migrating wild geese, frozen mountains and rivers — with a selection of Chinese paintings and objects dating from the Song dynasty to the present.

Highlights of this rotation include an album of seasonal landscapes, a court painting of a wintry scene, and an abstract ink work by a modern master.

With two paintings dedicated to each season, the eight-leaf album by Lu Yuan (active 1650–1700) shows the progression of the year from early spring to late winter. It features vignettes of the life of a recluse throughout the seasons set against misty landscapes and a subtle delineation of changing weather and light.

Mountain Peaks Covered in Snow by Tang Dai (1673–after 1752) is thought to be a depiction of the emperor’s summer retreat in the mountains of Chengde at a time of year when the court did not visit, evoking the solitude of winter. It may also have served as a cooling mental image for the emperor and his court during the hot summer months.

Middle Summer by Pan Gongkai (b. 1947) is an abstract representation of a lotus pond during the height of summer. Executed in free-flowing ink and an improvisational, expressionistic style, the painting is characteristic of Pan’s contemporary approach to traditional ink painting.

This rotation of objects evokes the hopeful expectation of spring, the joy of summer, the colorful exuberance of autumn, and the solitude of winter.


Included with general admission. Reserve your timed tickets today.


Image: Mountain Peaks Covered in Snow, by Tang Dai (Chinese, 1673–after 1752). Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Hanging scroll; ink and colors on paper. Asian Art Museum, Gift of the Tang family in memory of P.Y. and Kinmay Wen Tang, 1992.62. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.