After the Wu School, Songjiang School represented by Dong Qichang began to rise. Dong Qichang’s landscape paintings learned from Gu Zhengyi and Mo Shilong, predecessors of Huating School, and also benefited from collections of Gu Yuanbian, the host of Tian Lai Ge in Jiaxing. He admired the South School in style, that is, to date back to Tang and Song dynasty traditions via the four masters in the Yuan dynasty and combine their techniques together to form a delicate and desolate style. In this way, they managed to absorb and assemble other schools’ strengths. Centered around Dong Qichang formed a group called ‘Nine Friends in terms of Painting’, including Li Liufang and Cheng Jiasui. They not only responded to each other via poetry, but also learned about art from each other.
While Songjiang School adored a style of antiquity in art history, Xin’an School made a sharp contrast with its fresh and unique strokes inspired by landscapes of Anhui Province, especially the scenery of Mount Huangshan. The representatives included Zha Shibiao, Monk Hongren, Dai Benxiao, etc. During the transition from Ming to Qing dynasty, apart from Songjiang School and Xin’an School, there was another painting group comprising of adherents of Ming dynasty, including Fu Shan, Gong Xian, Xu Fang, Xiang Shengmo, etc. The paintings enjoyed their own respective charm, some being created by professionals while others expressing literati’s thoughts and affections.
This exhibition specially selects over twenty landscape paintings of Dong Qichang and different schools in the late Ming and early Qing dynasty from Suzhou Museum, focusing on those done by Songjiang School, Xin’an School and the adherents of Ming dynasty in the form of scrolls, album leaves and hanging scrolls, from which we can detect the diversity of painting schools in the late Ming and early Qing dynasty.