A simple house beneath trees on a riverbank, trees and distant mountains rising in the mist beyond the river—the pictorial elements here are extremely limited, leaving only the delights of brush and ink in the execution to bring aesthetic pleasure to the viewer. Ink tonality ranges from faint washes to the darkest accents, with a variety of brushstrokes on especially the tree foliage bringing added interest.
Much of this repertory originated with the late Ming dynasty artist Dong Qichang (1555-1636). The present artist, Cheng Dayong, followed Dong’s lead in emphasizing the stripped-down essentials of the art in a well-balanced composition of his own making. Cheng is not recorded in standard biographical accounts of painters, probably because he was born and lived in the interval between the main biographical accounts of the 17th and 18th century.