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Fishing Village after Light Snow (Yucun xiaoxue tu) is an extant work by the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127) artist Wang Shen (ca. 1048–after 1104). Painted after his banishment, the work depicts a wintry scene in a unique way. The snow has stopped falling amidst the mountains and banks along the water. The toil of fishermen and the seclusion of literati are combined into one natural environment. Exquisite naturalistic painting techniques with robust yet elegant brushwork are used to demonstrate the artist’s yearning for a hermitage in the forested mountains. The scene fully demonstrates Su Shi’s (1037–1101) intention for literati painters to cast off all constraints and freely express their feelings.
Wang Shen was a talented calligrapher and painter who enjoyed collecting art. He studied the works of Li Sixun (651–716) in his application of blue and green coloration to landscapes. His ink work continued the legacies of the painters Li Cheng (919–967) and Guo Xi (ca. 1000–ca. 1090). Wang’s paintings not only have the exquisiteness of a Song dynasty court painter’s style but, moreover, integrate the literati aesthetic advocated by Su Shi.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu