Born in Xiaoshan, Zhejiang Province, Ren Xiong lived in Shanghai selling paintings to earn a living. He first imitated the works of past calligraphy masters and later viewed numerous excellent calligraphy works and paintings by prestigious artists when visiting the residence of Yao Xie (1805-1864) in Ningbo. With this experience, he became increasingly proficient in painting. Excelling in both freehand and meticulous painting, he painted a wide range of subjects, particularly figures and Daoist stories. He imitated the paintings of Chen Hongshou (1598-1652), a well-known painter of the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Ren's works are characterized by the slight exaggeration and distortion of figures. As a key representative of the Shanghai school in modern times, Ren Xiong ranked with Ren Xun (1835-1893), Ren Yi (1840-1896), and Ren Yu (1854-1901) as the Four Rens of Shanghai, and also with Zhu Xiong (1801-1846) and Zhang Xiong (1803-1886) as the Three Xiongs of Shanghai.
This set of paintings was executed by the aforementioned Qing painting master Ren Xiong. The title of each painting includes the Chinese character for ten-thousand (wan). The album includes the following works: Building with Ten-thousand Poetry Scrolls, Ten-thousand Lotus, Ten-thousand Snowy Mountains, Ten-thousand Precipitous Peaks, Ten-thousand Bamboo in Clouds and Rain, Green Layers of Ten-thousand Pines, Ten-thousand Autumn Trees, Ten-thousand Torrents, River of Ten-thousand Leagues, and Ten-thousand Branches of Fragrant Snow. The paintings depict natural scenes in Suzhou or images from the artist's imagination. For instance, Ten-thousand Precipitous Peaks and Ten-thousand Branches of Fragrant Snow resemble the scenery of Suzhou's Heavenly Peace Mountain and Fragrant Snow Lake. Ten-thousand Lotus presumably depicts a scene of the West Lake in Hangzhou. Moreover, Ten-thousand Bamboo in Clouds and Rain is an imaginative treatment of islands and Xiaoxiang scenery. The artist uses larger numbers like ten and ten-thousand to emphasize that his paintings comprehensively depict all beautiful scenes under heaven. The exquisite brushwork and ingenious compositions contribute to the drama of these images. Meanwhile, the gold-flecked paper highlights the splendor of blue and green in the paintings.
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