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Painting

After Wang Meng's "Mountain Dwelling on a Summer Day"
Wang Yüan-ch'i (1642-1715), Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911)
Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper, 96.5 x 49 cm

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Wang Yüan-ch'i (style name Mao-ching and sobriquet Lu-t’ai) was a native of T'ai-ts'ang, Kiangsu. He received his "chin-shih" civil service degree in 1670 and served in a number of posts before becoming Attendant Gentleman of the Ministry of Revenue. Appreciated as a scholar-artist, he became a personal painter-connoisseur for the K'ang-hsi emperor (r. 1662-1722) and served as one of the editors of an imperial compilation of painting and calligraphy. The grandson of the famous painter Wang Shih-min (1592-1680), Wang Yüan-ch'i grew up in the arts of the scholar. Developing new theories and influencing generations to come, he is known as one of the Four Great Masters of the Ch'ing.

This painting is a depiction of a deep forest on layered crags, a winding stream in a desolate valley, and lofty pavilions and buildings on a cliffside coming down to the stream valley below. In the distance is a view of lofty mountains, giving a sense of height and depth as well as solitude and peace. This work is composed mostly of texture strokes executed with dry ink. The brushwork is dense, following the manner associated with Wang Meng (1308-1385). Wang Yüan-ch'i, in his inscription here, stated that ink ought to be used lightly and that darker shades ink should be expressed using light washes. In executing this landscape, he first outlined the composition in light ink. Then, he gradually built up the deeper areas of ink with layers of light ink. Finally, he applied accents in heavy ink. Both dry and moist areas exist in the linear and scumbling brush strokes. One of Wang's finest paintings, he executed this in the early autumn of 1694 when he was 52.
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