With increasing prosperity in southeastern China during the late 15th to early 16th centuries, wealthy patrons came to have a direct influence on the development of art at the time. Painters such as Tu Chin, Chou Ch'en, T'ang Yin, and Ch'iu Ying were active in the cultural circles of the area and stood out as some of the finest professional painters of the age. Tu Chin was mostly active in Nanking while the other three were born in the Soochow area. These four painters are not only related in terms of their study of art or as friends, but also in the similarity of their styles.
The figure painting of these four artists is marked by elegant forms and beautiful scenery. In addition to a fine style with colors, they also had a more unrestrained one dominated by ink. Although they inherited from the refined academic style of the T'ang and Sung dynasties, they also fused it with the warm and personal manner of literati artists, creating a point of convergence with the literati Wu School of the period.
This special exhibition from the collection of the National Palace Museum includes a gallery where paintings are displayed along with enlarged transparencies of details for study and appreciation. Thus, viewers hopefully will have a greater understanding of figure painting in the middle Ming and the works of Tu Chin, Chou Ch'en, T'ang Yin, and Ch'iu Ying in particular.
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