Because of his father's meritorious service to the Ming court, Wang Shih-min was admitted to government office in 1614 as a secretary. By 1636, he had risen to the position of vice-minister of the court of Imperial Sacrifices. Following the Manchu conquest in 1644, he retired to T'ai-ts'ang where he pursued artistic activities. His integrity and social stature insured his family's continued prominence and his son Wang Shan became grand secretary under the K'ang-hsi emperor. Wang Shih-min became the leader of the so-called Ch'ing orthodox school of painting and, together with Wang Chien, Wang Hui, and Wang Yuan-chi formed the mainstream literati group known as the Four Wangs.
Under Wang's leadership, the stylistic reconstruction of Chinese landscape painting, formulated by Wang's teacher Tung Ch'i-ch'ang (1555-1636), was now perceived as the orthodox (and politically safe) lineage for literati painting. Literati masters of the Yuan dynasty (14th century) were greatly admired by the Four Wangs, and it is not surprising that this bucolic mist-shrouded mountain scene by Wang was inspired by the Yuan master, Hung Kung-wang (1269-1354). With its light, earth-toned washes and deliberate use of horizontal texture strokes, this classic landscape typifies Ch'ing orthodox school painting.