Wang Meng (1308-1385), Fishing in Reclusion at Cha-hsi, Yuan dynasty. Hanging scroll, ink and light colors on paper, 128.4 x 54.6 cm. © National Palace Museum, Taipei.
Wang Meng, who went by the style name Shuming and the sobriquet Huangheshanqiao, was a native of Wuxing in Zhejiang. His father Wang Guoqi (1284-?), the son-in-law of the famous painter-calligrapher Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), also excelled at painting and calligraphy. Therefore, in art, he followed in the Zhao family style. Since childhood, Wang Meng excelled at painting and calligraphy, and in his studies was particularly influenced by his uncle Zhao Yong (1290-?). For his innovative and highly personal style, he was regarded by later generations as one of the Four Masters of the Yuan. This painting depicts the scenery around Cha-hsi (Cha River). Also known as Cha-chuan, it is located to the south of Wuxing county, Zhejiang, and represents the confluence of the Dao, Yupu, and Xiao rivers which flow northeast into Lake Tai. This work is very similar in terms of composition and brushwork to Wang Meng's "Thatched Hut in Autumn Mountains," which is also in the National Palace Museum collection. Both works take the compositional formula of two landmasses divided by a river, and the mountains divide into two directions leading to the right and left as they wind back into the background. One of the paintings represents a spring scene while the other autumn. In this painting, the brushwork is dense and fine and the coloring elegant and pleasing. In the lower area, several peach trees are in full bloom with dense branches and leaves. A recluse fishes on a skiff under a tree. Following the river upwards, we come across the thatched residence of the recluse among the mountain trees along with a row of willows in front. These willows appear similar to those rendered in Zhao Mengfu's "Autumn Colors on the Qiao and Hua Mountains" (also on this website). Since Wang was Zhao's grandson, it is not surprising to find some similarity between the works of the two. The paper of this painting has suffered abrasion, resulting in damage to the ink in the area of the willows. Although remounted by a later person, the damage is still quite noticeable. The inscribed title in seal script and in four characters, "Recluse at Cha-hsi ," was done by a person named Yu Quan, whose identity remains unknown. Judging from Wang Meng's own inscription, however, this is probably an early work from the period before he became a recluse. Three versions of this painting are in the National Palace Museum collection. The compositions are exactly the same with only slight differences in the inscriptions.
The other two bear poetries are inscribed by Shen Meng-lin and display weaker brushwork, making the quality of this one stand out. (Text from National Palace Museum, Taipei).