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Twin Pines (雙松圖)

Wu Zhen (吳鎮, 1280–1354), Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368)

Hanging scroll, ink on silk, 180 x 111.4 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       According to the artist’s inscription, this painting is dated to 1328, making it the earliest surviving dated work by Wu Zhen. It also indicates that it was done for the Daoist master Lei Suozun (雷所尊). Although the title indicates that these are pines, the needles here are those of cypress trees. The knotty trees preserve the style of the Li Cheng and Guo Xi manner. The trunks rise vertically, and at the top branch out and intertwine. The bark is done with hemp-fiber strokes in light ink, while the hills and rocks are formed with layers of texture strokes and washes that soften to indistinct outlines similar to the Dong Yuan and Juran style. Many round stones also in the Dong-Ju manner appear at the edge of the water. These elegant touches not only define the water’s edge at the shore, but also round off the mountaintops. The two cypresses in the foreground dominate the painting, but beyond them, a sense of space is suggested by the stream as it winds into the distance. The repetitive brushwork and layers of ink give the scroll a simple and peaceful harmony.