[zi Mengduan; hao Youshi]
(b Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, 1362; d Beijing, 1416).
Chinese painter, calligrapher and poet. Following early promise as a painter and poet, Wang Fu passed the provincial examinations—the second stage in the civil service examination ladder—to receive his juren degree in 1376. He went to Nanjing soon after to take up a government post, but in 1380 was banished to the northern frontier, near Datong, Shanxi Province, as the result of alleged political activity against the Ming (1368–1644) government. For the next 20 years Wang served as a frontier guard, after which he returned to the south to paint and write. From 1403 to 1412 he worked as a calligrapher in the imperial palace at Nanjing, and in 1414 he went to Beijing to join the Central Draughting Office; he died there two years later.
Accounts of Wang’s character and artistic skill have the ring of conventional formulae. It is said that he painted infrequently, while travelling and often when drunk. In spite of his reputation for eccentricity, his extant works reveal a diligent hand and serious application to his art. In his ...