Gong Xian (Chinese, 16191689)
Album of twelve paintings; ink on paper; 6 1/4 x 7 9/16 in. (15.9 x 19.2 cm)
Facing pages inscribed by the artist
From the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Family Collection
Gift of Wen and Constance Fong, in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1979 (1979.499)
By the mid-1670s, Gong Xian's confidence as a painter had taught him to avoid an overly skillful or popular style. He wrote: "Nowadays when people paint they do only what appeals to the common eye; I alone do not seek to please the present."
In this album, both paintings and inscriptions attest to Gong's striving after a spiritual communion with earlier masters while creating a pictorial vocabulary all his own. Departing from his densely textured, monumental landscape style of the 1660s, Gong moved toward a sparser manner in which each brushstroke is made to function calligraphically as well as descriptivelyembodying both expressive as well as representational meaning. The album's formatpaintings accompanied by art-historical commentsreminds us that Gong Xian taught painting for a living.