The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) painters -- particularly the Four Great Painters: Huang Gongwang, Ni Zan, Wu Zhen and Wang Meng, and the outstanding Huang Gongwang -- greatly developed landscape painting. Born in 1269, Huang lost his parents at a young age and lived in poverty. At 10, he was adopted by Huang Le, a native of Zhejiang Province. It is said that the 90-year-old Huang was amazed to see such a talented boy, and renamed him Huang Gongwang. At 12 or 13 years of age Huang took the examination for child prodigies, and after diligent study he mastered much knowledge and techniques. The famous painter that he was, Huang also achieved a high status as a scholar.
Following in the footsteps of Dong Yuan and Ju Ran, Huang blended his feelings towards nature into his paintings. His book Knack of Landscape Painting even enlightened later generations. Huang created nearly 100 paintings, among which only several exist today -- Marvelous Rivers and Mountains, Living in Seclusion as a Fisherman, A Room Full of Fragrant Orchids, etc.
Many of Huang"s landscape paintings were produced after he was 70 years old. The Dwelling in Fuchun Mountain, which was of 396.6cm long and 33cm high, contained the most beautiful scenery of the two banks of theFuchunRiver. Huang spent six or seven years visiting every corner along the banks of the river to complete the painting. The whole painting portrays beautiful, simple and elegant scenery. Huang advocated learning from predecessors and painting whenever beautiful scenery is encountered instead of painting passively.