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Ten Magnificent Landscapes

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: ink and color on golden paper
Format: album of 10 leaves

Artist(s): Ren Xiong (1823-1857)

Dimensions: 26.3 × 20.5 cm

Born in Xiaoshan, Zhejiang province, Ren Xiong lived in Shanghai selling paintings to earn a living. He first imitated the works of past calligraphy masters, and later viewed numerous excellent calligraphy works and paintings by prestigious artists when visiting the residence of Yao Xie (1805-1864) in Ningbo. With this experience, he became increasingly proficient in painting. Excelling in both freehand and meticulous painting, he painted a wide range of subjects, particularly figures and Daoist stories. He imitated the paintings of Chen Hongshou (1598-1652), a well-known painter of late Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Ren's works are characterized by the slight exaggeration and distortion of figures. As a key representative of the "Shanghai school" in modern times, Ren Xiong ranked with Ren Xun (1835-1893), Ren Yi (1840-1896) and Ren Yu (1854-1901) as the "Four Rens of Shanghai", and also with Zhu Xiong (1801-1846) and Zhang Xiong (1803-1886) as the "Three Xiongs of Shanghai".
  This set of paintings was executed by the Qing painting master Ren Xiong. The title of each painting has a character meaning "ten thousand" (wan). The album includes Building with Ten-thousand Poetry Scrolls, Ten-thousand Lotus, Ten-thousand Snowy Mountains, Ten-thousand Precipitous Peaks, Ten-thousand Bamboo in Clouds and Rain, Green Layers of Ten-thousand Pines, Ten-thousand Autumn Trees, Ten-thousand Torrents, River of Ten-thousand Leagues, and Ten-thousand Branches of Fragrant Snow. The paintings depict natural scenes in Suzhou or images from the artist's imagination. For instance, the Ten-thousand Precipitous Peaks and Ten-thousand Branches of Fragrant Snow resemble the scenery of Suzhou's Heavenly Peace Mountain and Fragrant Snow Lake. The Ten-thousand Lotus presumably depicts a scene of the West Lake in Hangzhou. Moreover, the Ten-thousand Bamboo in Clouds and Rain is an imaginative treatment of islands and Xiao Xiang scenery. The artist uses larger numbers like "ten" and "ten thousand" to emphasize that his paintings comprehensively depict all beautiful scenes under heaven. The exquisite brushwork and ingenious compositions contribute to the drama of these images. The gold-flecked paper highlights the splendor of blue and green in the paintings.

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