Shady Trees in a Summer Landscape

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Shady Trees in a Summer Landscape (夏木垂陰)

Dong Qichang (董其昌, 1555-1636), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 321.9 x 102.3 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       According to the inscription by Dong at the top of this work, it is an imitation done from memory of a Dong Yuan (董源, 10th c.) painting that he had seen and also combined with the style of Huang Gongwang (黃公望, 1269-1354). This, however, is no strict copy. The unmistakable syncretic style of Dong Qichang is evident in everything from the winding force of the composition down to the built-up brushwork. The strokes, derived from Dong Qichang's calligraphic style, emphasizes the movement of the brush as well as variety in the ink tones to create layers of form and change in the painting. The work, especially when viewed from a distance, reveals the characteristic contrast of light (paper) and dark (ink) that seems to give the landscape an almost three-dimensional quality within the Chinese art tradition of juxtaposing solid and void.