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Wen Zhengming

Wen Zhengming (born 1470, Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China — died 1559) Chinese painter, calligrapher, and scholarly figure.

Born to an established family, Wen Zhengming was by nature sensitive and withdrawn, and it was not until age 53 that he emerged from his scholarly isolation, receiving the recognition of the court with his appointment to the Hanlin Academy. He stayed there for only three years and then retired to produce his best-known works. He was expert at the four major styles of calligraphy: seal, official, regular, and "running." In all his paintings there is a spirit of studied antiquarianism and cautious consideration. In technique, Wen Zhengming's paintings range from the highly detailed to the more freely washed. Along with his teacher, Shen Zhou, he was a leading figure of the Wu school of scholar-artists.

Wen often chose painting subjects of great simplicity, like a single tree or rock. His work often brings about a feeling of strength through isolation, which often reflected his discontent with official life. Many of his works also celebrate the contexts of elite social life for which they were created. He collaborated in the design of the Humble Administrator's Garden, generally considered one of China's four greatest gardens.

Editor: Feng Hui

Key Words

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