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A Painter’s View of Southern China


Dong Yuan, one of the greatest painters in the later Tang Dynasty (923-936), was born in Zhongling county, Jiangxi province.

He is considered the founding father of landscape painting of southern China as well as one of the three great painters of the early Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

Regions in the southern part of the Yangtze River, are mostly flat topographically, and have lots of rivers and a warm climate. As a devotee of landscape painting in southern China, his painting styles are deeply influenced by natural conditions.

His artworks often focus on the imagery of thick forests, fog and low mountains, which are a contrast to the steep mountains in the northern China.

Five Representative Paintings

1. 《夏景山口待渡图》 Waiting at a Ferry in the Summer

Size: 49.8 x 329.4 cm

Venue: Liaoning Provincial Museum

Introduction: This painting portrays a beautiful and quiet summer day south of the Yangtze River. It paints the story of a ferry on the river, wriggling its way through the mountains; thick forests make the numerous hills more striking.

2. 《潇湘图》 A Picture of Two Rivers: Xiaohe River and Xiangjiang River

Size: 50 x 141.5 cm

Venue: The Palace Museum

Introduction: Xiao and Xiang are the names of two rivers in Hunan province, and the Dongting Lake is their meeting point, and the subject of this painting. With silver moonlight shining on the dark mirror-like surface of the lake, fishermen on the boat and people on the water’s bank are talking to each other loudly and happily on a quiet summer night. It is Dong Yuan’s only authentic work collected by the Palace Museum, it is a rare and classic piece.

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