Xu Wei

Playwright, Visual Artist

1521 – 1593


Who was Xu Wei?

Xu Wei was a Ming Chinese painter, poet, writer and dramatist famed for his artistic expressiveness. Revolutionary for its time, his painting style influenced and inspired countless subsequent painters, such as Bada Shanren, the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, and the modern masters Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi. Qi once exclaimed in a poem that "How I wish to be born 300 years earlier so I could grind ink and prepare paper for Green Vine". Xu Wei can be considered as the founder of modern painting in China. His influence continues to exert itself. Despite his posthumous recognition, Xu was manifestly mentally ill and unsuccessful in life, ending his life in poverty after the murder of his third wife and several attempts at suicide.

His style names were Wenqing and then later Wenchang. His pseudonyms were The Mountain-man of the Heavenly Pond, Daoist of the Green Vine House and The Water and Moon of the Bureau's Farm. Born in Shanyin, Xu was raised by a single mother who died when he was 14. At 21, he married Pan-shi, who died five years later. Though he passed the county civil examination at age 20, Xu was never able to pass the provincial civil service examinations, even after attempting it eight times. Nevertheless, Xu was employed by General Hu Zongxian, Supreme Commander of the Jiangsu-Zhejiang-Fujian coastal defense against the wokou Japanese pirates.

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Also known as
  • Xú Wèi
  • Hsü Wei
  • China

on July 23, 2013


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