Xia Gui - Song Dynasty

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       Xia Gui (夏珪, fl. 1180-1230), style name Yuyu (禹玉), is a representative painter of the Southern Song (1127-1279) court. He is frequently paired with another renowned member of the painting academy, Ma Yuan (馬遠, c.1160-1225). Due to the compositional focus of their landscape paintings often being in one part of their work, they have been referred to as "One-corner Ma and One-side Xia." In addition, he is ranked along with Li Tang (李唐, c.1050-1130), Liu Songnian (劉松年, c.1155-1218), and Ma Yuan as one of the Four Masters of the Southern Song.

       Xia Gui was a native of Qiantang (modern Hangzhou) and it was during the reign of Emperor Ningzong (r. 1195-1224) that he received the prestigious Golden Belt and was promoted to the rank of Painter-in-Attendance. His most familiar style involves creating a composition in which only a small part of the scenery is revealed, the rest being concealed in mist. In addition to his innovative composition, his brushwork was also rich and varied, especially in the use of energetic texture strokes.