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  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Man reading resting on a rock - detail of calligraphy
    Fan painting - Man reading resting on a rock - detail of calligraphy by Ni Tian (1853-1919)

    A single figure, seated but leaning to the left and with elbows resting on a large rock, reads a book. The large rock takes up the entire center space. Ni Tian is a well-known artist and his work is seen frequently in collections and at auctions. He was one of the "Nine Friends" of Suzhou, and would have known and interacted with all of the famous painters in the south in his day. He began his studies with Wang Su (1794-1797), although there are hints at friction between the two. Some aspects of Ni Tian's character helped label him as "greasy and flippant," and his long-standing relationship with the madam of a brothel may have helped this censure. Although listed among the Suzhou artists, he spent most of his later years, from about 1890 on, in Shanghai, where he studied the style of Ren Yi, student of Ren Xun. The inscripton contains the dedication, date and signature. A single figure, seated but leaning to the left and with elbows resting on a large rock, reads a book. The large rock takes up the entire center of the composition, and the inscription at far left is balanced by the spreading branches of a tree, of which only the lower branches are visible, at right. The lower trunk of a second tree is visible at the right edge of the fan. The energetic brush and careful control of ink value are typical of Ni Tian, who was a very skilled artist technically. He lived into the twentieth century, and continued the traditions of the Shanghai school, especially the style of Ren Yi, although without much significant contribution of his own.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Man reading resting on a rock
    Fan painting - Man reading resting on a rock by Ni Tian (1853-1919)

    A single figure, seated but leaning to the left and with elbows resting on a large rock, reads a book. The large rock takes up the entire center space. Ni Tian is a well-known artist and his work is seen frequently in collections and at auctions. He was one of the "Nine Friends" of Suzhou, and would have known and interacted with all of the famous painters in the south in his day. He began his studies with Wang Su (1794-1797), although there are hints at friction between the two. Some aspects of Ni Tian's character helped label him as "greasy and flippant," and his long-standing relationship with the madam of a brothel may have helped this censure. Although listed among the Suzhou artists, he spent most of his later years, from about 1890 on, in Shanghai, where he studied the style of Ren Yi, student of Ren Xun. The inscripton contains the dedication, date and signature. A single figure, seated but leaning to the left and with elbows resting on a large rock, reads a book. The large rock takes up the entire center of the composition, and the inscription at far left is balanced by the spreading branches of a tree, of which only the lower branches are visible, at right. The lower trunk of a second tree is visible at the right edge of the fan. The energetic brush and careful control of ink value are typical of Ni Tian, who was a very skilled artist technically. He lived into the twentieth century, and continued the traditions of the Shanghai school, especially the style of Ren Yi, although without much significant contribution of his own.