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25) Ma Yflan (active 1190-1225). On a Mountain Path in Spring. Album leaf Ink and color on silk. Southern Sung. Ma Yuan and his slighter later contemporary Hsia Kuei (see Nos. 27,28 below) are considered the epitome of Southern Sung Academy art. This style has considerable appeal in the West and is often considered among the most popular and approachable styles of Chinese painting. The style is intimate, lyrical, and delicate. In contrast to the meticulous execution of Northern Sung masters like Fan K'uan, the emphasis here is on "less" rather than "more," on suggestion rather than full statement. Light washes are used to blur the horizon, and the resulting scenes are closer and more intimate than in Northern Sung art. In this painting, a scholar walks along a mountain path. His servant follows behind carrying his ch'in, a musical instrument similar to a zither. The scholar has paused to watch two orioles in the wind-blown willow tree. A poetic couplet to the right captures the scene and the mood: "Brushed by his sleeves, wild flowers dance in the wind; fleeing from him, the hidden birds cut short their songs." The combined effect of image and text is an attempt to capture the spirit of one brief moment in time.

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