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A native of Xiuning, Anhui province, Zha Shibiao followed the style of Yuan dynasty landscape painting masters Ni Zan (1301-1364) and Wu Zhen (1280-1354). He used few brush lines and sparse composition to create bleak scenery. With Monk Hongren (1610-1663), Sun Yi (act. ca. 17th c.), and Wang Zhirui (act. ca. 17th c.), Zha Shibiao is called one of the "Four Masters of Xin'an”. (These four painters were either native to Xiuning or to Shexian of Anhui province. In dynastic times, these two counties were collectively called Xin'an.)
This scroll transcribes a pentasyllabic octet Questing after Spring by Ming (1368-1644) poet Zhang Yu. The poem was included in Chapter IX of Jiaji from Collection of Poetry from Successive Reigns (Liechao shiji), an extensive anthology of Ming poetry edited by the famous later-Ming official and poet Qian Qianyi (1582-1664). The simple style, and the smooth and supple brush strokes continues the legacy of Dong Qichang (1555-1636). It is in perfect accord with the aesthetic taste of the "Xin'an school”.