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.
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.
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>