Stubby branches and twigs characterize the trees growing throughout the scene. Earthy embankments and peaks are given form and texture by repetitive dottings and internal overlappings of broad brushstrokes. Much of this style originated with the Yuan master Wu Zhen (1280-1354) and the present artist, Ye Xin, was clearly extending that tradition in the present work.
Ye was born in Yunjian, the present Huating in Jiangsu province. His birth and death dates are not recorded in standard sources, but in 1669 his friend Zhou Lianggong (1612-1672) recorded that he was zhangnian or “old in years” “a senior.” This would suggest that Ye was then about seventy years of age and thus born about 1600. His dated works range from 1631 to 1673; a landscape dated considerably later, to 1686, is of questionable authenticity.
Born and raised in the hometown of Dong Qichang (1555-1636), it is not to be wondered that Ye’s initial stylistic orientation, as seen in the present work, was toward the literati masters of the Yuan era. His connections with the orthodox school of Dong continued into later years; an album by Ye bears a colophon by Shen Hao mentioning Dong Qichang and another by Wang Jian dated 1661. An album painted in 1672 by another of the Four Wangs, Wang Hui (1632-1717), bears a colophon by Ye Xin.
In later years Ye moved to Jinling (Nanjing), almost certainly after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644. By the early 1650s he was painting such local scenes as Mount Zhong and collaborating with such other artists as Cuo Zhe and Gao Cen, both of whom, like Ye himself, came to be known as the “Eight Masters of Jinling (Nanjing).” It should be noted, however, that Ye continued to refer to himself as from Huating in his inscriptions, suggesting a lasting loyalty to the place of his origins. Judging from extant dated paintings, Ye Xin was most active in Nanking from the late 1640s to the 1670s, and it was during that period that he became quite close to Zhou Lianggong. No fewer than one hundred paintings were done by Ye for Zhou before 1648 and several of Ye’s later paintings were inscribed as having been done for Zhou, who included a long biography of the artist in his Duhualu, a record of contemporaneous artists who were known to him.