Fan Kuan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Fan Kuan
Fan Kuan - Travelers Among Mountains and Streams - Google Art Project.jpg
Travellers among Mountains and Streams (谿山行旅), ink and slight color on silk, dimensions of 6¾ ft x 2½ ft.[1] National Palace Museum, Taipei[2]
Born fl. 990
Died 1020
Nationality Chinese
Known for Painting
Movement Sung Dynasty, Northern Landscape style

Fan Kuan (Chinese: 范寬; pinyin: Fàn Kuān; Wade–Giles: Fan K’uan) (fl. 990–1020)[1] was a Chinese landscape painter of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) considered among the great masters of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Almost no biographical details survive about him. He modeled his early work after that of the artist Li Cheng (919–967), but later he concluded that nature was the only true teacher. He spent the rest of his life as a recluse in the rugged Qiantang mountains of Shanxi. Besides his admiration and love for the mountain's of northern China little else is known of his life.[citation needed]

Travelers among Mountains and Streams, a large hanging scroll, is Fan Kuan's best known work and a seminal painting of the Northern Song school. It establishes an ideal in monumental landscape painting to which later painters were to return time and again for inspiration.[3] Fan Kuan based the painting on the Taoist principle of reclusion, the composition emphasizes the monumentality of nature. A packhorse train can barely be seen emerging from a wood at the base of a huge precipice.

Despite the fact that the painting represents an ideal example of the achievements of the Northern Song landscape styles, the painting still represents several archaic conventions dating back to the Tang Dynasty. The composition remains dominated by a central massif. The foliage are composed of mechanically repeated and narrow texture strokes.[4]

The historian Patricia Ebrey explains her view on the painting that the:

...foreground, presented at eye level, is executed in crisp, well-defined brush strokes. Jutting boulders, tough scrub trees, a mule train on the road, and a temple in the forest on the cliff are all vividly depicted. There is a suitable break between the foreground and the towering central peak behind, which is treated as if it were a backdrop, suspended and fitted into a slot behind the foreground. There are human figures in this scene, but it is easy to imagine them overpowered by the magnitude and mystery of their surroundings.[5]

Fan's masterpiece Travellers among Mountains and Streams bears a lost half-hidden signature rediscovered only in 1958.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ebrey, Cambridge Illustrated History of China, 162.
  2. ^ Liu, 50.
  3. ^ Sullivan, The Arts of China, 179.
  4. ^ Sullivan, The Arts of China, 180.
  5. ^ Ebrey, Cambridge Illustrated History of China, 162–163.
  6. ^ Sullivan, The Arts of China, 180.


  • Liu, Pingheng (1989). Shui mo yin yun, qi yun sheng dong de Zhongguo hui hua (水墨絪縕, 氣韻生動的中國繪畫) = Misty and Lively Chinese Painting. Taibei Shi: Guo li li shi bo wu guan (國立歷史博物館).
  • Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

External links[edit]