Early Chinese Texts on Painting
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For students of Chinese art and culture this anthology has proven invaluable since its initial publication in 1985. It collects important Chinese writings about painting, from the earliest examples through the fourteenth century, allowing readers to see how the art of this rich era was seen and understood in the artists' own times. Some of the texts in this treasury fall into the broad category of aesthetic theory; some describe specific techniques; some discuss the work of individual artists. Presented in accurate and readable translations, and prefaced with artistic and historical background information to the formative periods of Chinese theory and criticism. A glossary of terms and an appendix containing brief biographies of 270 artists and critics add to the usefulness of this volume.
Liang Dynasty Emperor Yuan who reigned 552-554] was by nature a superior man and famous in his generation. Early taking advantage of an inborn wisdom, he penetrated in his studies beyond the nature of things, and his mind was schooled by all creation. He was such that not even the most virtuous could hope to equal. Yet painting has Six Elements [or Laws] which even true immortals would find difficult. The Prince reached the utmost in divine subtlety in his imaging of people. He had a brilliant
Abbreviations xiii Introduction 1 1 Pre-T’ang Interpretation and Criticism 18 Problems of Representation 24 Optical Illusion 25 Didactic Subject Matter 25 Definition, Animation, and Expression 28 Training 32 Technique 32 The Significance of Landscape 36 Criteria for Appreciation and Criticism 39 Social Status and Creative Activity 42 2 T’ang Criticism and Art History 45 The Significance of Painting 48 Origins of Painting 49 Period and Regional Styles 52 Definition,
between his dots and strokes. While all the rest paid careful attention to verisimilitude, he rid himself of such vulgarities. His curved bows, straight blades, vertical pillars, and horizontal beams, did not require the use of marking lines or rulers. His bristling whiskers and curled coiffures stream out several feet, yet the firm strength with which each hair was rooted to the flesh is entirely satisfactory. There must have been some orally transmitted secret for this which no one [now] can
connection, see David E. Pollard, "Ch'i in Chinese Literary Theory," in Adele Austin Rickett, ed., Chinese Approaches to Literature from Confucius to Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), pp. 43-66. Introduction 9 And wide vistas open to regions hitherto entirely barred, Will come with irresistible force, And go, their departure none can hinder. Hiding, they vanish like a flash of light; Manifest, they are like sounds arising in mid-air. So acute is the mind in such
basis of observation. 16 His translation of the Six Laws appears in chapter 2 at "Definition, Animation, and Expression." In 1966 Wen Fong gave another reading of the first law in "Ch'iyiln-sheng-tung: 'Vitality, Harmonious Manner and Aliveness,'" where he traced these terms in contemporary as well as later usage. Ch'i, "the vital creative force," and yiln, its harmonious expression, are both viewed as attributes of style, as in literary theory. Yiin in painting is "grace" or "harmony" in the