Ma Yuan (馬 遠, c.1160-1225) was a Chinese Song Dynasty painter and the founder of the Ma-Xia school who created what is still perhaps the most exquisite pictorial study of the movement of water. In a series of 11 silent – very silent – paintings, Ma Yuan testifies to a fog that rises over a deep sea, its currents and eddies, the wrinkles of the Yangtze River, a light breeze on Dongting Lake, and to layers upon layers of persistent marine tremors. In all of his paintings, the waves follow an implicit score composed by the wind.

In his Study of the properties of water, the only characters are precisely those of the water and the wind (feng shui). But in some paintings, a third element makes an appearance, the amber color of the mountain tea, and this is transmuted to others over time.

The inscriptions in black are the titles of the works, which are partially translated here. The red seals (those ghosts in the water) are a traditional means of providing either what we now call a signature (typically, these include details on the artist, printer, the artist’s family, the historical period and the owner) or they represent signs of approval from art critics (unimaginable in a contemporary painting).

Without further drowning the work in commentary, some examples are shared below.

10298692_10152537994280337_5512802053083500477_n

1798586_10152537991480337_3727738196925599540_n 10378216_10152537991850337_3316710889644241068_n 10299919_10152537991330337_5164434164449876353_n 10302532_10152537994505337_7210140351706575128_n 10390449_10152537995715337_4341106119572839878_n 10172783_10152537995565337_537691673528987905_n 10394585_10152537994605337_1487754069128776804_n 10365945_10152537992000337_7241060687063586188_n

Ma Yuan (馬 遠, c.1160-1225) was a Chinese Song Dynasty painter and the founder of the Ma-Xia school who created what is still perhaps the most exquisite pictorial study of the movement of water. In a series of 11 silent – very silent – paintings, Ma Yuan testifies to a fog that rises over a deep sea, its currents and eddies, the wrinkles of the Yangtze River, a light breeze on Dongting Lake, and to layers upon layers of persistent marine tremors. In all of his paintings, the waves follow an implicit score composed by the wind.

In his Study of the properties of water, the only characters are precisely those of the water and the wind (feng shui). But in some paintings, a third element makes an appearance, the amber color of the mountain tea, and this is transmuted to others over time.

The inscriptions in black are the titles of the works, which are partially translated here. The red seals (those ghosts in the water) are a traditional means of providing either what we now call a signature (typically, these include details on the artist, printer, the artist’s family, the historical period and the owner) or they represent signs of approval from art critics (unimaginable in a contemporary painting).

Without further drowning the work in commentary, some examples are shared below.

10298692_10152537994280337_5512802053083500477_n

1798586_10152537991480337_3727738196925599540_n 10378216_10152537991850337_3316710889644241068_n 10299919_10152537991330337_5164434164449876353_n 10302532_10152537994505337_7210140351706575128_n 10390449_10152537995715337_4341106119572839878_n 10172783_10152537995565337_537691673528987905_n 10394585_10152537994605337_1487754069128776804_n 10365945_10152537992000337_7241060687063586188_n

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