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Wang Zhongyu, whose specific dates of birth and death and birthplace remain unclear, was summoned to the capital to be a court painter during the Hongwu period (1368-1398), Ming dynasty.
This work has no signature of the artist. At the bottom left is a seal that reads "Seal of Wang Zhongyu".
On the upper part of the scroll, written in clerical script, is the complete text of Returning Home, a famous lyric poem by the pastoral poet Tao Yuanming of the Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420). Below the text is Tao's portrait. A scroll in hand, he stares thoughtfully into the distance as the loose sleeves of his gown sway in the wind. In line painting techniques, the portrait was mainly drawn in diluted ink with occasional dark ink. The figure's face was depictured with thin lines in calm and deliberate manner, while the draperies of robe were outlined with center-tip strokes and sidelong strokes alternatively, creating a smooth and vivid rhythm. The concise brushwork and simple composition make a marvelous combination to illustrate the legendary poet, a self-sufficient recluse from bureaucratic life.