Reference Entry

Ma Yuan

in Benezit Dictionary of Artists

ISBN: 9780199773787
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199899913 | DOI:
Ma Yuan

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  • Painting
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • East Asian Art


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Chinese, 12th – 13th century, male.


Born in Hezhong (Shanxi).


For a long time, the West thought of Chinese landscape painting solely in terms of the form it had taken during the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), which found its greatest expression in the work of Ma Yuan and Xia Gui, the co-founders of the Ma-Xia School. This was a sentimental, subjective art in which the part was substituted for the whole, and in which nervous, elliptical brushwork suggested a fragmented, momentary reality and a sensitivity to the impermanence of things, an art that deliberately rejected the serene balance of natural forces for a more intense emotional content. Yet although Westerners saw the very essence of Chinese painting in this style, the Chinese themselves preferred the styles immediately preceding and following Ma Yuan’s, those of the Northern Song dynasty and the Yuan, and only ever accorded him a modest admiration....

Reference Entry.  1515 words. 

Subjects: Painting ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; East Asian Art

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