Southern Song Landscape Painting

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In the Southern Song period (1127-1279), after the capital was relocated to Hangzhou because of the loss of Kaifeng and most of north China to the Jurchen Jin dynasty, court painters continued to paint landscapes, but favored small formats and more lyrical treatments. Below is one such large album leaf by the court painter Ma Yuan (active 1190-1224). Note the poetic couplet the painter inscribed on this painting.  By this time, painters were frequently exploiting the connections between poetry and painting, either by making a painting to capture poetic lines or writing a new poem to bring out features of a painting they had done. 


To see a close up, click here.


How does the relatively large human figure affect how we view this painting?


Do you see the composition itself as poetic?



Ma Yuan (active 1190-1224), On a Mountain Path in Spring                      source



After Ma Yuan, probably the most successful of the Southern Song court landscapists was Xia Gui (active c. 1180-1224).  Pure and Remote Views of Mountains and Streams, shown below, is unusually tall for a handscroll, almost twenty inches in height.  


What do you notice about the brushwork Xia Gui used?  How does the fact that this painting was done on paper affect the impression it makes?

Xia Gui (fl. ca. 1190-1230), Streams and Mountains with a Clear Distant View, detail               source


To see an overview of the entire painting, click here.


To see more details, click here.


Move on to Yuan Landscape Painting