Hu Jing, born in Nanping in Fujian province, trained as a scholar and known for his poetry and calligraphy, become a monk toward the end of his life. Hu became especially famed for his painting. At some point during his life, probably in 1634, Hu Jing visited Okinawa, then called Ryukyu in Japan and Liuqiu in China, where he did landscape sketches as a pictorial record of his journey.
Hu Jing’s earliest dated painting, a “Winter Landscape” from the year 1609, relates to the style of Wang Duo and others who revived the monumental style of the Northern Song era. In his latest period, including the present work from 1640, Hu’s landscapes became more intimate than earlier, with the scenes brought closer and easier of access. The “Retreat Under Pines” is further distinguished by the artist’s use of a figured silk as ground for his painting. Although patterned silk was used more frequently in calligraphy than in painting, the juxtaposition here of its subtle pattern with the painted image yields an interesting pictorial tension and rewards close viewing of the painting.