Tang Yin — An Exceptional Artist and His Pathos Life Encounters
Tang Yin (1470 — 1524), courtesy name Tang Bohu, was a great painter, litterateur, calligrapher, and poet of the Ming Dynasty.
His brilliant talent brought him renown and friends, as well as suspicion and disaster, and a series of pathos encounters.
Poem "Zi Shu Lian Ju Shi" and Calligraphy of Tang Yin — Palace Museum
Brilliant Wunderkind Tang Yin and His Glorious Early Years
Tang Yin was born into an ordinary family whose father ran a small restaurant. They were never rich but lived a peaceful, happy life together.
He showed the outstanding painting, calligraphy, and literary talent and became a famous wunderkind in his hometown.
When he was 15, he won first place in the Imperial Examination of his city; afterward, his genius reputation spread widely.
Then, he befriended other talented people and married a beautiful girl he loved.
Tang Yin’s life was bright, carefree, and proud during that period.
He and his intelligent friends spent much time having fun, taking trips, painting, writing, and enjoying their young and brilliant lives.
Tang Yin Painting "Dong Li Shang Ju Tu" that Describes Appreciating of Chrysanthemums — Shanghai Museum
Huge Tragedies and Determination
When Tang Yin was 24, a series of tragedies happened.
His parents, wife, son, younger sister, childhood friend, and teacher all passed away. Afterward, his life completely changed.
Tang Yin decided to participate in the National Imperial Examination, win a good score, and gain a political position, as all scholars of the Ming Dynasty would expect.
In the next few years, he studied diligently, married his second wife, and gradually recovered from the huge losses before.
As expected, Tang Yin won a great score in his province when he was 28 and set off for Beijing to participate in the final round of the imperial exam.
On his way to Beijing, he met another person named Xu from a wealthy family, and they became good friends.
Tang did an excellent job on the exam and was supposed to be in the top three of that year's rank, but soon he was imprisoned under the name of cheating.
Tang Yin's Fan Covering Painting "Ku Mu Han Ya Tu" that Describes Withered Trees and Crows in Cold Environment — Palace Museum
The Wrongly Accused Wunderkind and His Lost Dream
Before they took the National Imperial Exam, Tang Yin was confident and proud and publicly claimed he would be the champion.
Later, people found that that year's exam was extremely difficult, and only two participants answered excellently: Tang Yin and his wealthy friend Xu. Then they both were imprisoned and investigated.
It turned out that his rich friend Xu did buy the exam topic from the principal examiner's servant using big money.
Tang Yin, however, didn't do that.
But his announcement of being the champion before the exam made him suspicious; people didn’t believe a student could predict the result unless something unspeakable happened.
Besides, Tang Yin and Xu were very close friends during that period.
Afterward, the principal examiner that had the exam topic stolen by the servant was forced to resign; he was angry and sad and passed away very soon.
Tang Yin and Xu had their scores canceled and were forbidden to join the Imperial Examination again.
This meant that Tang Yin would never be involved in politics, the dream of the most educated people in ancient China.
Tang Yin's Painting "Tong Yin Qing Meng Tu" that Describes A Person Resting Under A Tree, The Poem On Implied that He Would Never Participate Imperial Exam Again — Palace Museum
A Castaway Genius Living in Poverty
After Tang Yin was set free from prison, he was given a job as a low-rank officer.
He refused to do this job since it was too far away from his actual talent and opposite from what he had expected.
When he arrived home, Tang Yin found that everyone had changed their attitude. In people’s eyes, Tang Yin was no longer a genius scholar with a bright future; on the contrary, he was just a banished cheater.
His second wife soon took all of his money and left him.
Tang Yin's Painting "Wang Shu Gong Ji Tu" that Describes Women In Royal Palace of King of Shu (901 — 926) — Palace Museum
Afterward, Tang Yin became a deviant, dissolute person who spent most of his time drinking, painting, and visiting bawdy houses.
All of his old friends obtained decent scores in Imperial Exams, got political positions, and served the country as respected officials.
But Tang Yin, the most talented genius, was making a living by selling his paintings.
He bought a wasted house and has lived there since then. He named it the Peach Blossom Hut (Tao Hua An) and created many masterpieces there.
Tang Yin's Painting "Shi Ming Tu" that Describes Scholars Tasting Tea — Palace Museum
Pretending to Be A Lunatic and Escaping from Lethal Crisis
A decade later, a king invited Tang Yin to be an assistant official in his vassal state, which excited Tang.
Deep inside, Tang Yin still wanted to be politically helpful.
So, he accepted the offer happily and soon arrived there; now, he was 44 years old.
However, after having lived in the king’s palace for a while, he discovered that the king was secretly preparing to rebel: the king was training soldiers and stocking weapons, a felony in the Ming Dynasty.
Tang Yin didn’t want to rebel but couldn’t leave safely after knowing the king’s horrible secret.
Hence, Tang Yin started to act like an insane person by streaking on the street, eating disgusting garbage, and telling everyone that he was the king’s honorable guest.
No one could understand how this brilliant genius felt about being a lunatic on the street, disgusted by everyone, and how desperate he had lost his last pride and dignity.
A few months later, the king was embarrassed and sent Tang Yin back.
Tang Yin's Painting "Luo Xia Gu Wu Tu" that Describes A Lonely Scholar Appreciating Sunset Glow and Water Birds — Shanghai Museum
Leaving the World in Desperate
Tang Yin was proved right later; this king initiated a rebel war years later and was quickly defeated by great general Wang Yangming.
Tang Yin was safe but also super disappointed and dispirited.
And his beloved third wife, a woman who highly worshiped Tang Yin, passed away.
Again, he buried himself in alcohol and passed away a few years later.
This extraordinary genius never got the chance to realize his dream because of bad luck and overconfidence; however, he glowed in another way.
The Ming Empire lost an intelligent politician but gained an outstanding artist. Most of Tang Yin's exceptional masterpieces were finished in his most desperate times.
Before he departed, being old, sick, and poor, he lamented, "among the big world, from heaven to hell, there was no place that he could ever belong."
Tang Yin's Painting "Chun Shan Ban Lv Tu" that Describes He and A Friend, Sitting and Chatting in Grand Nature — Shanghai Museum
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