Showcasing the greatest Chinese ink wash painters

Hangzhou Local Lan  Ying is one of several masters featuring in an exhibition of 60 paintings — some, hundreds of years old.

Hangzhou has developed into a cultural center abounding with ink painting schools ever since it was made the capital in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

During the Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, these schools were further enriched and a batch of noteworthy painters sprang up.

Among the great painters, Hangzhou local Lan Ying (1585-1664) was one of the most prolific. His career spanned more than 50 years and many of his works survive.

“Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” by Huang Gongwang

Lan was apprenticed at the Songjiang painting school and drew on experience from peers in northern Zhejiang Province during his early period. Later, he created the Wulin painting school, which played a significant role in the art during the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

His painting style was influenced by Huang Gongwang (1269-1354) and Dong Qichang (1555-1636), and in turn he influenced younger artists who followed him, including Chen Hongshou (1599-1652), Liu Du (1640-1672) and Lan Meng (1614-1671).

The Wulin Pavilion of the Zhejiang Museum is exhibiting 60 paintings by Lan and other great painters through October 31. These treasures come from a dozen of museums including The Palace Museum in Beijing and Shanghai Museum.

The exhibition shows how painters influenced each other’s skills and styles.

Dong’s works are described as “fresh, with delicate brushwork.” At first, Lan imitated Dong’s color, layout, strokes and structure, which can be seen by pieces in the exhibit. There two similar styles have been placed together.

Dong considered anyone who wanted to become an artist had to learn from the ancient masters and was an admirer of Huang. Under Dong’s influence, Lan also followed Huang’s style.

One of the exhibition highlights is “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” by Huang. It is one of the master’s few surviving works.

The painting’s last private owner loved it so much that he wanted to take it with him into the next life, so he set it on fire in 1650. His nephew rescued the work, but not before the flame split it into two pieces.

“Lotus and Stone” by Lan Ying

One piece made its way into the Zhejiang Museum in Hangzhou, while the other went to the Palace Museum in Taipei. It is rarely shown in public, so this is a chance not to be passed up.

Another highlight is a set of bamboo-themed paintings incorporating the works of five masters: Lan, Zhang Zhong, Sun Zhi, Xu Yi (1599-1669) and Sun Kehong (1532-1611). The part by Lan is considered his earliest surviving work.

Date: Through October 31, closed on Mondays

Address: Zone E, West Lake Culture Square, 581 Zhongshan Rd N.

Admission: Free

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