Fan Kuan

Painter, Visual Artist

– 1020


Who was Fan Kuan?

Fan Kuan was a Chinese landscape painter of the Song Dynasty 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, 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.

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. 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.

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  • China

on July 23, 2013


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