China Seminar | 9 December 2004

The Enigma of Ni Zan (1306-1374): Master Landscape Painter of the Yuan Dynasty

Stephen Little Stephen Little

Ni Zan (Ni Tsan) is famous as one of the greatest painters in Chinese history. He lived during the Mongol occupation of China in the 14th century, and painted landscapes that were intensely personal and poetic, and deceptively simple in style. Today his original paintings are very rare; the majority of his surviving works are owned by the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Republic of China. Six of his paintings are owned by American museums.

In 1996 Little, while working as Pritzker Curator of Asian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, was able to acquire a Ni Zan painting for the museum. The painting was purchased from the great painter and collector C.C. Wang. This lecture will tell the story of the painting’s history and acquisition, and Little’s foray into the enigmatic world of this 14th-century Chinese painter.