The Ming Period
WITH the advent of the native dynasty, especially after the Ming rulers in 1409 once again moved the capital to Peking, there was a fresh outburst of artistic creativity. Again the painting changed, and although the landscape was no longer as important as it had been during Sung times it expressed the new ideals of the period, which was both rational and materialistic. Ming painting, although often artistically rewarding, lacks the depths of feeling and profundity of thought which had characterized the best of Sung painting. The center is again man, and in this way the Ming period seems closer to the T'ang than to the periods which immediately preceded it. Human activities are shown as interesting in themselves, and there is a strong anecdotal tendency in much of the painting, which is now concerned, not with man's place in the universe, but with his life in the daily world. Hand in hand with this goes another development--that of a greater emphasis upon realistic detail. It was not that most Ming artists used the meticulous style so characteristic of T'ang painting, but that they were more interested in describing the details of a given scene, while earlier painters, such as Ma Yüan or Ni Tsan, had been satsified with subtle suggestion.
Despite these changes, respect for tradition was still strong, and the Ming artists at least professed to be following the masters of previous dynasties. Many a work shows the influence of the great Southern Sung academicians