Chinese, active 1584-1638
Landscape with Figures under a Tree, 1616
Fan painting; ink and gold leaf on paper
Signature: Ding Yunpeng
Seals: one of the artist and two of collectors
Ding Yunpeng, who lived for some time in a Chan (Zen) Buddhist temple, was admired by contemporaries as a fine literati (scholar-official) painter. He was involved with the intellectual circle of the great Ming artist and critic Dong Qichang, and his use of ink tone and textured rock surfaces in the landscape recalls the broad, wet brushwork of Shen Zhou, the first great painter of the influential Wu school, the mainstream of Ming literati painting. Working in the literati tradition of monochrome drawing, Ding painted radically abstracted natural forms with greater intellectual than sensory appeal.
This tiny masterpiece reflects the artist's work as a designer for woodblocks. Rather than depicting illusory space, Ding aimed for powerful surface design: an interplay of textures and patterns massed as coherent units across the fan.