During the middle of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the Jiangnan region immediately south of the lower Yangtze River witnessed economic prosperity and great achievements in the arts. It was a time that saw the rise of such prominent artists as Shen Zhou (沈周), Wen Zhengming (文徵明), Tang Yin (唐寅), and Qiu Ying (仇英), who became known as the “Four Masters of the Ming Dynasty.”
These four masters are also known as the “Four Masters of the Wu School,” named after Wu county (吳縣) in the region of Suzhou (蘇州), in Jiangsu province, where the painters worked. From a more technical perspective, Shen Zhou and Wen Zhengming followed the tradition of the literati artists, whereas Qiu Ying followed the styles of the professional court artists. Tang Yin‘s interests are somewhere between the two.