Ethereal Dynasty

In Non Western on April 22, 2011 at 12:09 PM

The first of my posts on Non-Western traditional art, I found this work sifting through some larger paintings of the Yangtze River. You can thank me later for not posting the Ten Thousand Miles of the Yangtze River, since that probably would crash any computer you’re trying to view it on its so large. Instead, I found a much smaller depiction of the great river in China, painted during the Ming Dynasty, by Wu Wei.

"Ten Thousand Li of the Yangtze River" by Wu Wei

Wu Wei was a native of the Jiangxia Province, today known as the Wuhan, Hubei Province (The Great Ultimate). He studied painting at an early age and was well liked by officials at the Palace in Nanjing, where he was given the title “The Topmost Painter”. As we can see above, he was known for his minimal, unrestrained brushstrokes, populated by the Southern Song Academy traditions that was furthered during the Ming Dynasty (Ming Dynasty Heilbrunn).

This painting, Ten Thousand Li of the Yangtze River, is composed of ink on silk, helping add to the textures present in the composition. Wei uses a combination of smaller strokes together, as well as shading to give a very well detailed landscape an ethereal look. The contrast is much more apparent when looking towards the mountains in the background. Careful shading creates the appearance of fog that is masterfully etched into the painting throughout, giving a very lifelike interpretation of what the fog would be doing if one were staring off towards the peak centered in the painting in real life

It is a soothing piece that is one of my favorites to come out of the Ming Dynasty and really helps to identify the characteristics and traits favored during this period of cultural restoration and exploration for the Ming Dynasty.

Works Cited

Ming Dynastsy (1368-1644). Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1 Oct 2002. Web. 22 Apr 2011.

The Great Ultimate. Curator’s Pick. The Palace Museum. 1 Jan 2009. Web. 22 Apr. 2011. <http://www.dpm.org.cn/shtml/660/@/114674.html&gt;

  1. Good Blog Post,

    I also enjoy this piece of artwork because of the serenity to it. I like how the artist also added flowing weeds (some type of vegetation) to it, such as it looks like there is some heavy winds going on.

    I was really surprised to learn that this piece of artwork was done on Silk. That must have been tough and must have taken quite a bit of time for the artist to finish the piece.

    I am wondering though if the artwork was unfinished though, it seems like there is a out of place blank white spot next to the mountain.

    Good Job 🙂

    • Thanks Toni!

      I’m not sure if its unfinished. Looking at the spot you mentioned, I think it’s more of a way of representing the distance of the mountains, as the farther the mountains drawn are away from the peak, more fog should be visible (or at least, that’s what I see when I look at it).

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