Retreat at the Foot of Mt. Hui

 
Artist
Creation date
Dynasty
Yuan dynasty
Materials
ink on paper
Mark Descriptions
title written by Qian Kui (1313-1384)
Dimensions
11 5/8 x 29 1/8 in. (image) 11 5/8 x 222 1/2 in. (overall)
Credit line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eli Lilly
Accession number
60.50
Collection
Not Currently On View
[Walter Hochstadter {1914-2007}]; Eli Lilly, Indianapolis ($9,500.); given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1960.
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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Wang Meng was one of the Four Great Masters of the Yuan dynasty, a group of painters who were renowned for their landscapes and influenced many later generations of artists. This intimate representation of a secluded dwelling at the foot of Mount Hui is an early example of a genre of “retreat” images that emerged to widespread popularity in the 1300s and that may relate to the rise of eremitism during the Yuan dynasty. Typical of Wang’s style is the contrast between the scrubbed strokes and wriggling textures with which he renders nature and his calm and simple treatment of figures and architecture. Another of the Yuan masters, Ni Zan, wrote of Wang and his exuberant style, “The strength of Wang Meng’s brush is able to lift a tripod. In the past five hundred years there has not been such a master.”

The Yuan dynasty, when China was ruled by the Mongols and visited by Marco Polo, was a watershed moment in painting, as artists turned away from verisimilitude in favor of more personal expressions. Ever since, the duplication of visual reality has been considered less important than the statement of artistic personality. Like the choice of words in a poem, the style of brushstrokes and ink can express the qualities of what is depicted more effectively than its explicit appearance.

There is one basic rule in poetry and painting - natural genius and originality.
—Poet and Statesman Su Shi, 1037–1101