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Painting

The Jung-hsi Studio
Ni Tsan (1301-1374), Yüan dynasty (1279-1368)
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 74.7 x 35.5 cm

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Ni Tsan (style name Yüan-chen; sobriquets Yün-lin, Yü-weng) was a native of Wu-hsi, Kiangsu. Son of a wealthy merchant, he was a bibliophile, collector, amateur poet and painter. He remained aloof of any official commitment and spent the later part of his life wandering the streams and lakes of his native province. He was one of the Four Great Masters of the Yüan.

This work was done by Ni at the age of 71. The colophon states that the painting was first given to Ni’s friend, Pi-hsüan, who kept it for three years and then gave it to his physician-friend Chung-jen, who asked the artist to inscribe a poem. Jung-hsi was the residence of the physician, so the painting was obviously done first before the inscription was later added. The brushwork is especially bland and refined, with tonal variations in the trees most carefully built up. An upright brush with point-centered energy has been employed more often than a slanted brush, and broken hemp-fiber strokes are more frequent than washes in the modeling of the rocks.
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