國立故宮博物院 National Palace Museum (New window)

:::Title: Introduction

Wen Boren (1502-1575), a native of Suzhou in Jiangsu province, had the style name Decheng and the sobriquet Wufeng. Born into a family of scholars, he went to the county school for his education but later gave up hope of advancing in the civil service examination system, instead delving into painting to make a living. His uncle, the renowned Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), was also the leader of art circles in Suzhou at the time. As a result, Wen Boren's cultivation in studies and painting in his early years was deeply influenced by local Suzhou traditions and by Wen Zhengming. After his middle years, Wen Boren also traveled to Beijing, Nanjing, and Songjiang, becoming an important proponent of the Wen School painting style in other major cities at the time.

Wen Boren was able to achieve his own style and to stand out prominently among later students who studied and emulated the style of Wen Zhengming. He took the intricate structure of his uncle's compositions and pursued a direction of increased refinement and precision, using fine brushwork and delicate colors to express himself. He also adopted an original approach to compositional arrangement, rendering beautiful scenes of mountain forests both luxuriant and serene that exude the uniquely elegant manner associated with the Wen School. Viewers, in fact, often compared the works of Wen Boren with those of one of the Four Yuan Masters, Wang Meng (1308-1385).

The works in this exhibit are mostly landscapes. And with many of them related to local scenery and the depictions of scholars' cottages, they reflect the popularity of paintings in the Suzhou area starting from the fifteenth century that deal with scenic sights and scholars' alternate names. The beautiful places of forests and streams in these works not only offer a glimpse at the development of local Suzhou painting styles in the sixteenth century, they also allow us to appreciate the consummate art of painting as practiced by an important second-generation artist in the Wen School, Wen Boren.