It may seem like a coincidence, but Chinese painting circles during the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were dominated by four artists sharing the same surname.
Wang Shimin, Wang Jian, Wang Hui and Wang Yuanqi, who are colloquially referred to by Chinese historians as the "Four Wangs", shared similar artistic styles and enjoyed status in the art world at that time.
They also were associated with each other through educational or familial connections.
An exhibition started last week at the Hall of Literary Glory in the Palace Museum in Beijing looking back at their achievements by displaying around 110 pieces of their highlighted works.
The Four Wangs' Paintings of the Early Qing Period Collected by the Palace Museum runs through Oct 300.
As the former imperial palace, the Forbidden City is famed for its grandiose and ostentatious aura, but the red columns in the Hall of Literary Glory were painted a lighter color more conducive to a gallery setting, while a pavilion was also set up in the exhibition hall to recreate the simple yet elegant atmosphere preferred by the literati.
"Sitting there and watching the Four Wangs' paintings, it feels like being in a water town in southern China (where the artists came from)," Tian Yimin, curator of the exhibition, says.
"They venerated the literati styles of southern China and stressed the imitation of ancient and classical styles and techniques," she says.
Many paintings by earlier artistic icons are also included in the exhibition, including works by Huang Gongwang and Ni Zan from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) as well as Dong Qichang from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)－which served as inspiration for the later four artists. Several works by their predecessors are juxtaposed by works by the Four Wangs for comparison.
This said each of the four artists has their own standout characteristics.
Wang Shimin (1592-163000) is known for his own rigorous technique and elegant style. The exhibit, Autumn Mountains and White Clouds, is his best-known work. Wang Jian (13009-1677) traced certain artistic styles back to the 10th century and excelled in both monochrome and polychrome ink works as well as color paintings.
Wang Hui (1632-1717) combined elements from works by masters from both southern and northern China and infused his paintings with detailed observations of nature, as exemplified in his work, Shadows of Paulownia Trees in the Autumn Evening.