The Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty
is a name used to collectively describe the four Chinese
painters Huang Gongwang
, Wu Zhen
, Ni Zan
, Wang Meng
active in the Yuan Dynasty
(1271–1368). They worked during the Yuan period and were revered during the Ming Dynasty
and later periods as major exponents
of the tradition of “literati painting
), which was concerned more with individual expression and learning than with outward representation and immediate visual appeal.
Two of the “Four Masters” were Huang Gongwang
and Wu Zhen
, who, being of the earlier generation of artists in the Yuan, consciously emulated the work of ancient masters, especially those pioneering artists of the Five Dynasties
period, such as Dong Yuan
, who rendered landscape in a broad, almost Impressionistic
manner, with coarse brushstrokes and wet ink washes. While these painters were also revered by the two younger Yuan masters, the restrained thinness of Ni Zan
and the almost embroidered richness of Wang Meng could not be more different from the work of the older Yuan masters.
Thus, with the "Four Masters", all of whom were noted for their lofty personal and aesthetic ideals, the art of landscape painting
shifted from an emphasis on close representation of nature to a personal expression of nature's qualities. They spurred experimentation with novel brushstroke techniques, with a new attention to the vocabulary of brush manipulation.