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40) Ni Tsan (1301-1374). Six Worthies. Hanging scroll, ink on paper, dated 1345. The landscape paintings of Ni Tsan take the literati ink on paper format to the limit of brevity and sophistication. This painting is a classic example of the Yiian "hills beyond a river" composition, in which there are three elements: a foreground island or stream-side bank with trees, a large body of water (a riv6r or lake) in mid-picture, and a distant, larger land mass on the far horizon. Although this structure occurs as early as Chao Meng-fu, it finds it fullest and most refined treatment in Ni Tsan. Visual brevity, as in Chao's Twin Pines, is key to Ni Tsan's paintings, where the constituent landscape elements have been pared down to the absolute minimum. The painting exudes austerity and understatement. Another important element in Ni Tsan's work is the strength and vigor of his drawing, a strength, however, this is also muted and seemingly carefree, like Huang Kung-wang, but is, in fact, the result of long practice and self-discipline. Such brush manner became the literati ideal for Ming painters such as Shen Chou and Wen Cheng-ming (slide No. 47).

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