Four Masters of the Ming Dynasty
There are several alternative terms for these four leading painters:
- Four Great Masters of the Ming (Chinese: 明四大家; Pinyin: Míng Sì-dà-jiā; "dà" means "great" here), due to their huge influence on the Chinese painting world during that period and later on.
- Four Masters of Wumen (Traditional Chinese: 吴門四傢; Simplified Chinese: 吴门四家; Pinyin: Wú-mén Sì-jiā); this is because the hometowns and families of these four painters were all originated into Wumen (currently in Suzhou, Jiangsu province), and they were also active there.
The term was coined first in mid-Ming Dynasty, most possibly created during the Jiajing Era (Jiajing Emperor), and has flourished since then.
The painters were friends when they are living, and were very familiar with each other. They had different family backgrounds. Shen Zhou was an anchoret. Tang Yin was born into a rich merchant family. Wen Zhengming was born into a bureaucratic family and himself was a government official. Qiu Ying was a craftsman of dyes and lacquers.
Shen Zhou was one of the main founders of the Wu School (Wu is the ancient and literal name for south Jiangsu, now Taihu Lake area) painting, which was originated from Wumen. Shen's early mentor of painting was Du Qiong (杜琼), and Shen's paternal grandfather was friend of Wang Meng - an artist during the late-Yuan Dynasty. Shen's father and uncle were all painters.
Both Shen Zhou and Qiu Ying were most accomplished in Shan shui painting, and they succeed and inherited the painting skills and style of the Imperial Royal Court (so-called Yuan-Ti, 院体). Tang Yin was an all-rounder, and was accomplished nearly all topics of traditional Chinese painting. Wen Zhengming was accomplished in blue-green shan shui painting and the fine style (Simplified Chinese: 工笔; Traditional Chinese: 工筆; Pinyin: Gōng Bǐ).
Wen Zhengming and Shen Zhou had a teacher-student relationship. Zhou Chen (周臣) was an important coach in Tang's early career, while Qiu Ying was self-learned. The three (except Qiu Ying) were also classic Chinese scholars (文人)and accomplished calligraphists and poets.
- Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty
- Wu School
- Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming, Tang Yin, and Qiu Ying
- Ming Dynasty painting
- Shan shui
- Ink and wash painting
- Bird-and-flower painting
- Four Arts of the Chinese Scholar
- Tang Yin: One of the Four Masters of Ming Dynasty
- Book: Four Masters of the Ming Dynasty (Chinese)(English); ISBN 962-7239-42-9
- "Four Masters of Ming" (in (Chinese)). Baidu Baike. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Wumen Painting School and Four Master Painters of Suzhou" (in (English)). Chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Biography of Shen Zhou" (in (Chinese)). Baidu Baike. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Tang Yin: One of the Four Masters of Ming Dynasty" (in (English)). cultural-china.com. 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2010.