Ma Yuan - Song Dynasty

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Facing the Moon (對月圖)

Ma Yuan (馬遠, c.1160-1225), Song Dynasty (960-1279)

Hanging scroll, ink and light color on silk, 149.7 x 78.2 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       This painting describes an autumn night on an overhanging cliff with the moon bright and suspended above. A scholar sits on a rock and holds a cup to the moon. A servant boy waits by his side with a goblet, the subject of this work derived from "Drinking Alone Under the Moon" by the Tang poet Li Bai (李白, 701-762). This work has neither signature nor seal of the artist, but has been traditionally attributed to Ma Yuan, who served as a Painter-in-Attendance in the reigns of Emperors Guangzong (光宗, r.1190-1194) and Ningzong (寧宗, r.1195-1224). He was one of the foremost painters of the evocative style of landscapes in the Southern Song. The weight of the composition of this work has been placed in one corner while the arrangement of distance and height is exceptionally pleasing. The brushwork penetrates and flows, while the washes of ink gradate from light to dark to produce a harmonious contrast. A technically skillful work, it is clearly in the style of a Zhe School painter of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) who was influenced by the works of Ma Yuan.

Ma Yuan: Facing the Moon