Born in Qiantang, Zhejiang province, Xia Gui is considered a master of pure landscape painting. Xia Gui and Ma Yuan (ca. 1160-1225), both academic master painters who served in the Southern Song court, formed the Ma-Xia idiom that defined the Southern Song landscape painting style. Unlike Ma Yuan, who often used landscapes as a tool for conveying poetic or human sentiments, Xia Gui's focus was on capturing true landscape, and he created a sense of infinite depth on a two dimensional surface, with minimal human presence. Developing Li Tang's ax-cut strokes to their most advanced and nuanced form, Xia Gui carved entire mountaintops from empty space with a single, sculptural turn of the brush. Many of Xia Gui's intimate works, such as album leaves and fans, survive today in museum collections.