Friday, August 29, 2008

Chinese Painters The Ch'ing Period--seventeenth To Twentieth Centuries

The Ch'ing or Manchu dynasty, whose downfall we have recently witnessed, brought no new vigor to China. Barbarians once again invaded the aged and enfeebled empire usurping the methods, history and organization of the preceding periods. The change in China at the end of the seventeenth century was only dynastic. The evolution of Ming tendencies continued, and despite the reorganization undertaken by Kang Hsi and maintained by his two successors, the excessive requirements of the old system, which had been formulated during the Sung epoch and definitely established in the Yuan and Ming periods, were so exacting that irremediable decadence was inevitable. Thenceforward no great changes in the realm of painting need be expected. It only continued its logical evolution.
It is necessary, nevertheless, to lay stress on the value of Chinese painting from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, for an opinion is current that, while there might still be something of value under the Ming dynasty, nothing good was produced under the Ch'ing. It is undeniable that marked signs of decadence are seen in the latter period, but by the side of some inferior works, others exist which maintain the vitality of the past and the hope of a renaissance.
In refutation of such hasty and ill informed opinion, it is sufficient to recall a number of paintings, signed and dated, of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which dealers or collectors calmly attribute to the eleventh and twelfth.
Chinese painting at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century was still full of vitality. The taste for brilliant color gradually diminished, and the composition became broader and more noble at the hands of certain painters, in whom is seen the revival of the vigorous race of yore. This was the time when Yun Shou-p'ing, more commonly known under the name of Nan-t'ien, painted landscape and flowers with the restraint and power of the old style, and when Shen Nan-p'ing set out for Japan to found a modern Chinese school which was to rival the Ukioyoyé in importance and activity. About them was grouped a large following, foretelling fresh developments.
No support was given to this movement by the new government, which was infatuated with the academic style of the earlier reigns and becoming more and more ignorant as the last years of the nineteenth century approached. In the eighteenth century a comparatively large number of Chinese painters settled in Japan, where they continued the traditions of Ming art. The observation of a Nan-t'ien or of a Shen Nan-p'ing was keen and painstaking, but the objectivity and realism now coming to the fore, were conspicuous in their works. No longer was it the world of pure substance and abstract principle that was sought, but the real, everyday world, the world of objective forms studied for themselves, living their own life, on the threshold of which the spirit halted, no longer guided by the old philosophies.

This character was maintained up to the nineteenth century. It is seen in the painting of flowers and landscape as well as in figure painting. These traits are equally apparent in an iris by Nan t'ien and a personage by Huang Yin-piao. The latter, working in the middle of the eighteenth century, evoked the personages of Buddhist and Taoist legend with a skillful brush, but his daring simplifications were more akin to virtuosity than to that deep reflection and freedom from non-essentials which were the glory of the early masters. Herein are discerned the elements of decadence, which are wont to assume precisely this aspect of a mastery over difficulties. For such ends genuine research and the true grasp of form were gradually abandoned.
Calligraphy and the literary style were not overlooked, but they were carried to a point of abstraction that is beyond the province of art. A personage was represented by lines which formed characters in handwriting and which, in drawing the figure, at the same time wrote a sentence. Doubtless that is a proof of marvelous skill. I agree in assigning such masterpieces to the realm of calligraphy but refuse to admit them to the domain of painting.
This applies as well to the so-called thumb nail painting held in high repute under the last dynasty. In this the brush is abandoned and the line is drawn by the finger dipped in ink or color. The painting is done on modern paper of a special kind which partially absorbs the paint, in the manner of blotting paper; this results in weak lines, and ink and color schemes devoid of firmness, in short, in a lack of virility which places such works, notwithstanding their virtuosity, in the category of artisan achievements. These works are numerous in the modern period and constitute what so many regard as Chinese painting. One cannot be too careful in discarding them.
During every period decorative paintings, religious paintings and ancestral paintings made after death, were executed in China by artisans, ordinary workmen at the service of whosoever might engage them. Such work should not be consulted in studying the styles of great periods or the higher manifestations of an art. These paintings were the first to leave China and find their way to Europe. There is no reason for analyzing them here.
To sum up, Chinese painting of the last two centuries still numbers masters of the first rank. This alone indicates that the sacred fire is by no means extinct. Who shall say what future awaits it amidst the profound changes of today? After a period of indecision which lasted for twenty-five years, Japan has found herself anew and is seeking to revive her artistic traditions. It is to be hoped that China will, at all costs, avoid the same mistakes and that she will not be unmindful, as was her neighbor, of the history of the old masters.

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This brief survey has shown how the distinctive features of China's artistic activity were distributed. Though subjected to varying influences, this evolution possesses a unity which is quite as complete as is that of our Western art. In the beginning there were studies, of which we know only through written records. But the relationship existing between writing and painting from the dawn of historic time, permits us to carry our studies of primitive periods very far back, even earlier than the times of the sculptured works. We thus witness the gradual development of that philosophical ideal which has dominated the entire history of Chinese painting, forcing it to search for abstract form, and which averted for so long the advent of triviality and decadence.
The goal sought by Chinese thought had already been reached in painting when, in the third and fourth centuries, we are vouchsafed a glimpse of it. It is a vision of a high order, in which the subtle intellectuality corresponds to a society of refinement whose desires have already assumed extreme proportions. Like Byzantium, heir to Hellenistic art, the China of the Han dynasty and of Ku K'ai-chih was already progressing toward bold conventions and soft harmonies, in which could be felt both the pride of an intelligence which imposed its will upon Nature, and the weariness following its sustained effort.

This refinement, arising from the exhaustion of a world which even thus retained a certain primitive ruggedness, was succeeded by a stupendous movement which followed in the wake of the preaching of Buddhism. With the new gods we see the first appearance of definite and long-continued foreign influences. Civilization was transformed and took on new life. Then, as in the days of the great forerunners of the Florentine Renaissance, there appeared a whole group of artists, prepared by the art, at once crude and refined, of an earlier people. This group set resolutely to work at the close study of forms, ascertaining the laws of their structure and the conditions of the environment which produced them. The period in which the work of Li Ss-hsun, Li Chao-tao and Wang Wei was produced may be likened to the fifteenth century in Florence with Pisanello, Verocchio, Ghirlandajo and Masaccio. Similar conditions gave birth to a movement that is directly comparable with the Italian movement for, no matter how varied the outward appearances due to differences of race and civilization, the fundamentals of art are the same everywhere and pertain to the same mental attitudes.
The great leaders in periods preceding the T'ang dynasty paved the way to the culmination which took place in the Sung period, and thus the fruit of that prolonged activity is seen ripening between the tenth and the thirteenth centuries. Through the gropings of the primitive period, the heterodox philosophies and the mystic stirrings of Buddhism, Eastern thought had arrived at an unquestionably noble comprehension of existence. The impersonal mystery of the universe, its mighty principle, its manifold manifestations and the secret which unveils itself in the innermost soul of things are the conceptions which form the inspiration of Chinese painting. These lofty thoughts are the source of that spirituality which declares itself therein with such nobility. The religion to which they are due will seem perhaps, to certain people, to be broader and less trammeled than our own. There is no doubt that the entire Far East was under the spell of its grandeur.
Up to this point art had sounded every depth and attained the highest summits of human achievement. Thenceforward it concerned itself with varying manifestations which were only the different modes of a formula that was still flexible, until the time when--the great inspirations of the past forgotten--there appear signs of a spirit on the quest for realism, emerging from the ancient tradition. This is the distinctive note in the evolution of Chinese painting under the last two dynasties. It would seem as if, even in this guise, a universal need of the mind is being satisfied, a need which we, too, have known after experiencing a chilling academicism, and when modern culture had overthrown the ancient idols. Chinese painters have thus completed a round analogous to that traveled by our own artists.

For the Far East as for Europe, the problem now presented is that of a revival. Bent beneath the weight of the prestige of the past, too learned in the last word of culture, modern art is seeking to find itself, groping blindly, full of promising but unfinished works. The time has come when there are signs throughout the world of a desire for a universal civilization, by the reconciling of ancient divergencies. Europe and the Far East bring into contrast the most vigorous traditions in history. Henceforward there is interest for both civilizations in studying and in coming to understand a foreign ideal. Though incomplete, these pages will perhaps help to show that such a mutual comprehension is not impossible and that, if egotistic prejudices are overcome, apparent dissimilarities will be resolved into a profound identity. Thus will arise the elements of a new culture. In coming to understand a mood which so fully reflects an unknown world, the European mind will discover principles which will make it rise superior to itself. May this broad comprehension of human thought lead Europe to estimate with greater justice a civilization numbering its years by thousands, and to refrain from thwarting the fulfillment of its destiny.
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An Introduction to the Study of Chinese Pictorial Art. Herbert A. Giles, M.A., LL.D., Professor of Chinese in the University of Cambridge. Second Edition, revised and enlarged. London, Bernard Quaritch. 1918.
Painting in the Far East. Laurence Binyon. Second Edition, revised. London, Edward Arnold. 1913.
The Flight of the Dragon. Laurence Binyon. Wisdom of the East Series. London, John Murray. 1911.
Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art. Ernest F. Fenollosa. 2 volumes. F. A. Stokes and Co., New York. 1912.
Scraps from a Collector's Note Book. F. Hirth. Leiden, New York. 1905.
Chinese Art. Stephen W. Bushell, C.M.G., B.Sc., M.D. Victoria and Albert Museum Handbook. 2 volumes. London. 1910.
Chinese Painting. Mrs. Francis Ayscough. The Mentor of Dec. 2, 1918, Serial No. 168. New York.
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The following summary furnishes additional information regarding the painters to whom reference has been made. Those to whom the subject is not familiar will find this of assistance in placing in their proper historical order the different trends which have been indicated elsewhere. They will also find dates useful in comparing, if so desired, the artistic evolution of China with that of Europe. This, however, is only an outline. The names of some great masters are omitted, for I have no wish to overload the margin of a statement which should be kept clear and convenient of access. I trust nevertheless that these few notes in concise form will be of use in connection with the preceding text.
The Bas-reliefs of the second Han dynasty belong to the second and third centuries of the Christian era.
Ku K'ai-chih, also called Chang-k'ang and Hu-tou, was born in Wu-hsi in the province of Kiang-su. He lived at the end of the fourth and beginning of the fifth century. His style, resembling that of the Han period, informs us as to the character of painting from the second to the fifth century. It is such as to indicate a long antecedent period of cultivation and development.
Hsieh Ho , painter of the figure. He wrote a small book setting forth the Six Canons or Requirements of painting. This work informs us regarding the philosophy of art in China of the fifth century.
It is difficult to set an exact date for the first contact of Buddhist with Chinese art. It may be assumed that the influence of Buddhist art began to be felt noticeably in China in the fifth century. In the seventh and eighth centuries it was so widespread as to be definitely established.
A.D. 618-905
Wu Tao-tz, also called Wu Tao-yuan. Born in Honan toward the end of the eighth century. His influence was felt in Japanese art as well as in that of China. He painted landscape, figures and Buddhist subjects.
Li Ss-hsun is considered as the founder of the Northern School. He appears to have felt the influence which Buddhist art brought in its train.
Li Chao-tao, son of Li Ss-hsun, lived at the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth centuries. He is said to have varied from his father's style and even surpassed it.
Wang Wei, also called Wang Mo-k'i , poet, painter and critic. The great reformer of Chinese landscape painting. Considered as the founder of the Southern School and the originator of monochrome painting in Chinese ink.
Han Kan, renowned in the period t'ien-pao . According to tradition he was a pupil of Wang Wei. His school possessed in the highest degree knowledge of the form, characteristics and movements of the horse.
A.D. 960-1260
Tung Yuan. Tenth century. Landscape painter. He worked in both the Northern and Southern styles.
Chu Jan, Buddhist monk. Tenth century. He was at first influenced by the work of Tung Yuan, but later created an individual style.
Ma Yuan. End of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth century. Member of the Academy of Painting. He was the author of a strong and vigorous style which characterized the school founded by him.
Hsia Kuei served in the college at Han-Lin in the reign of the Emperor Ning Tsung . He was considered a master of chiaroscuro and atmospheric perspective.
Ma Lin, son of Ma Yuan. Thirteenth century. His work shows that he painted even more in the tradition of the Southern School than his father and uncle.
Li Lung-mien or Li Kung-lin. Born at Chou in Ngan-huei. He held public offices, which he resigned in 1100 to retire to the mountain of Lung-mien, where he died in 1106. Noted for his calligraphy as well as for his painting. At one time in his life, under religious influences, he painted a great number of Buddhist figures.
Mi Fei or Mi Yuan-chang or Mi Nan-kung . Calligraphist, painter and critic. He used strong inking in a style in which the simplification of monochrome is carried to the extreme. He had a son, Mi Yu-Jen, who painted in his father's style and lived to an advanced age.
Hui Tsung, emperor, poet, painter and calligraphist. Born in 1082, ascended the throne in 1100, lost his throne in 1125 and died in captivity in 1135. In the first year of his reign he founded the Academy of Calligraphy and Painting. He made a large collection of valuable paintings and rare objects of art which was scattered at the plundering of his capital by the Tartars in 1225.
A.D. 1260-1368
Chao Mêng-fu, also called Ts-ang. Born in 1254. Man of letters, painter and calligraphist. He was a great landscape painter and in the first rank as a painter of horses.
Ch'ien Hsuan, also called Ch'ien Shun-chu, lived at the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth century. He painted figures, landscape, flowers and birds. He employed the style and methods of the Sung dynasty.
Yen Hui lived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. His paintings were numerous and indicate a master of the first order. He painted many Buddhist and Taoist subjects.
Huang Kung-wang. Fourteenth century. At first influenced by the style of Tung Yuan and Chu Jan, he later acquired an individual style and was one of the great founders of schools in the Yuan period.
Ni Tsan, also called Yun-lin . Man of letters, calligraphist, collector of books and paintings. He is considered to be one of the greatest painters of his time.
A.D. 1368-1644
Chou Chih-mien lived in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. His subjects were principally birds and flowers.
Shên Chou, also called Shên Ki-nan or Shên K'i . Landscape painter. His composition is at times overladen, as is often seen in Ming art.
Lu Fu lived in the fifteenth century. He made a special study of the plum tree in monochrome. He is comparable to the great Sung masters.
Wang Yuan-chang. Died in 1407 at the age of 73. He painted the bamboo and plum tree in monochrome. He carried on the Sung tradition, with which he was directly connected, and was the founder of a school.
Wên Chêng-ming , painter, poet and calligraphist. He is often compared with Chao Mêng-fu.
Ju-sue. Known only under this appellation. He lived in the fifteenth century and went to Japan, where his influence was marked.
Yun Chou-p'ing, appellation Nan-t'ien, true name Yun Ko . He studied at first under the influence of Wang Shu-ming and Siu Hi. He painted figures, flowers and landscape.
Shen Nan-p'ing lived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He was called to Japan in 1720 and founded there the school of Ming-Ch'ing or the modern Chinese school.
Huang Yin-piau or Huang-shên. At the height of his career between 1727 and 1746. He painted landscape and, toward the end of his life, legendary figures of Buddhism and Taoism with a technique that was skillful but often precise and somewhat weak.

Chinese Painters The Ming Period--fourteenth To Seventeenth Centuries

The Ming dynasty came into power on the wings of national feeling. China rallied her forces and expelled the foreign tyrants. Without doubt the nation cherished the illusion of rebuilding itself upon the model of the past, and the first emperors of the dynasty believed that the empire could be re-established upon an unshakable foundation. But the Ming dynasty, in reality, was but the heir and follower of Yuan. The latter itself had been only a connecting link. It had changed nothing, but had tended rather to absorb into the Chinese system the Northern barbarians, who up to that time had been foreigners. It had unwittingly achieved unity for China, despite itself and against its own inclination. In the administration of the empire, it had finished the program of conservation which the Sung dynasty, through impotence, had been unable to carry to completion.
The Ming dynasty inherited the work of the Mongols and consolidated it. It survived under their reign and under that of the Ch'ing rulers until the final disintegration, of which we have but recently seen the results. The peaceful ideals of the Ming dynasty, the marked predominance of Confucianism as a code of ethics, with certain modifications by Chu Hsi, combined to form an ensemble that was apparently perfect and which made it possible to have faith in the excellence of the principles laid down by the monarchy. Thus a school was formed which had its own philosophy, manners and ideals, all of them cold, stiff and without spontaneity. It was an over-perfect machine which went like clockwork. The world was judged with a narrow and somewhat stupid self-confidence. The ideal dwelt in the word of Confucian writings, divorced from their true meaning, and so badly interpreted that they ceased to be understood aright. The meticulous, bureaucratic and hieratic administration of the Tartars was a perfect system of government. The machine was still new and worked well, whence arose a false impression of permanence which added still further to the complacency of the conservative mind. An art was necessary to this China. She had it. It was academic painting.

Side by side with this and yet apart, other influences were at work. Notwithstanding the prohibition of books on heterodox philosophies in schools, accompanied by the widespread decadence of Buddhism, and the complete downfall of Taoism owing to gross practices in popular magic, and despite the disdain of the official world, another element in China was preserving the spirit of the past, the restless spirit that craved novelty. In all probability its obscure workings did not appear immediately upon the surface, concealed as they were by the strictly prescribed screen of official China. They were sufficiently strong, however, to give rise to an art which differed essentially from academic art, and which numbered masters who were comparable with those of the past. In spite of adverse circumstances and the weight under which these movements were buried, they made themselves felt in violent upheavals. First let us draw a picture of the decadence of an art and later we shall return to activity and life.
Official painting in the Ming period rapidly stiffened into convention. To understand how it took shape, we must go back to the time of Hui Tsung and observe the method of recruiting talent in the Academy which he founded.
That painting was allied to philosophic and poetic thought is already known. It was always a refined diversion of poets and painters to unite in a quest for the beautiful. The poet wrote verses and the painter painted a picture suggesting, sometimes remotely, the thought enshrined in the poem. Such were the conditions upon which Hui Tsung instituted examinations, following which the doors of the Academy were open to the victor. He gave, for example, as subject for a competition a verse saying, "The bamboos envelop the inn beyond the bridge," which suggested a landscape with flowing water, a rustic bridge thrown across the stream, a cluster of bamboos on the bank, a "winehouse" half hidden in the verdure. All the competitors, the records say, set to work drawing with minute care the inn which they made the essential feature of the picture. Only one implied its presence by showing, above a dense cluster of bamboos, the little banner which in China denotes the presence of a "winehouse." Two verses of another poem in which allusion was made to the red flowers of spring were interpreted by the representation of a beautiful young girl dressed in red, leaning on a balustrade, for according to Chinese ideas, the thoughts of young men in spring turn there, as elsewhere, toward thoughts of love.

We have here an example of the subtle allusions, at times profoundly poetic, with which Chinese painting abounds. But these things retain their value and charm only in so far as they depend on a free play of mind or upon personal, living sentiments. As accepted conventions regulated in an academic competition, repeated with sustained effort and without enthusiasm, their rigid monotony becomes intolerable. Such was the ultimate fate of that ability to express by half meanings, to suggest without directly stating, to which the Sung painters attached so great an importance. The day it was understood that a little banner fluttering over bamboos indicated the presence of a "winehouse" in a sylvan retreat, or that a young girl dressed in red symbolized the crimson blooming of a garden pink in springtime, banners and young girls dressed in red were seen in paintings innumerable to the point of satiety.
Thus were established those dry conventions of a somewhat stupid erudition which were so much the fashion in the academic painting of the Ming and the Ch'ing periods, and whose great success repressed the artistic aspirations of a people. Under these influences was rapidly assembled a complete arsenal of allegories, allusions and symbols that gave birth to an art which was possibly very learned, but which was inartistic to the last degree. An academician of the Ming period would have thought himself disgraced if he had not proven by complicated compositions the extent of his knowledge of things of this character. Art was no longer anything but a kind of puzzle. Furthermore, the decadence of eye and hand followed that of the mind, and there next appeared a taste for brilliant colors, overladen compositions, and fine and meticulous lines, culminating in an unbearable nicety. The work of the Academy is summed up in these words.
Let us turn aside from an art that is inert. It robbed things of the creative spirit that animated them. We shall now see what was achieved by those who followed in the steps of the old masters.
The fifteenth century in China witnessed a continuance of the style prevalent during the Sung and Yuan periods. Chou Chih-mien, for example, was true to that profound feeling for form, that delicacy of coloring, and rhythm in composition which were the endowment of the greatest masters. Shên Chou belonged entirely to the Yuan school, and to prove that the old ideals were not dead, we have in the fifteenth century the magnificent group of painters of the plum tree, with Lu Fu and Wang Yuan-chang at their head.
As before stated, a special philosophy was associated with this tree and its flowers. The white petals scattered on vigorous branches had long typified an inner soul, whose purity was the very likeness of virtue and of tenderness. Chung Jen, who in the eleventh century wrote a treatise on the painting of the plum tree, explains in his chapter on "the derivation of forms" that it is a symbol, a concentrated form, a likeness of the universe. The great fundamental principles mingle harmoniously within it; they express themselves in its shape and reveal themselves through its beauty. Similar to this was the philosophy associated with the bamboo, which endured up to the fifteenth century. The subtle monochromes of Lu Fu show branches of flowering plum swaying in the breeze. In the great works of Wang Yuan-chang trunks of old trees, still bearing hardy blossoms, stand proudly in the magical radiance of the moon. Vibration and power, grandeur and majesty, such are the qualities which were still sought amidst the severe conditions imposed by the use of black and white. Here we feel that the creative force is not yet spent. We find it equally fresh and vigorous in the ink bamboos of Wên Chêng-ming in the sixteenth century.
In landscape, however, new elements appear which mark a decline. I have already laid stress on the overladen composition which developed in the Yuan epoch. This was still more noticeable in the Ming period. When pictorial art has had a long series of masters, a certain eclecticism is infallibly produced. This leads to the rejection of the direct study of nature, in favor of viewing it only through the eyes of the old masters. This phenomenon appeared in China as well as in Europe. The landscape painters of the Ming period studied the technique of the T'ang and the Sung epochs and codified their system of lines, arranging them in series according to types and schools; in short, they drew from these a ready-made technique by which they were controlled. Turning from nature they yielded to imagination. They delighted in painting fanciful landscapes and were inclined toward images that were more external and less inspired than in the past. Their works, however, were invested with great charm, and the impossible disposition of their clustering peaks and oddly cleft rocks cannot but appeal to the imagination.
In these overladen compositions the unity of the picture is lost. We are no longer in the presence of a simple and forceful idea, but behold a thousand incidents, a thousand little details, exquisite in themselves, but which require a search. It is a new conception of landscape. We may possibly prefer the gripping formula of Sung and Yuan art, but we are forced to acknowledge that this later work has great charm and extreme refinement.

To this general trend was added a new taste in color, which became brilliant and complex like the composition itself, harmonious and graceful in the paintings of the masters and always charming in the work of painters of the second rank; but this was the herald of a blatant and vulgar manner which gradually gained ground until it came to be generally adopted by the artisans of the Ch'ing period.
While landscape under the Ming painters was assuming a different guise, and, forgetful of the observances of the past, was beguiling the mind by its charm and delicacy, a new type of figure was also developing. Here we must pause for a moment.
We have seen that figures were treated before landscape by the painters of periods preceding the T'ang dynasty. This early tradition had submitted to the influence of Buddhist art and, while certain of its elements were revived in the work of a few masters, there is no doubt that figure painting from the seventh and eighth centuries on, was absolutely revolutionized. The inevitable result was a new type in the sixteenth century. Painters studied the line for itself, determined its proportions, and analyzed features and drapery. As far as our present knowledge extends, their observations were not collected and codified until the end of the nineteenth century, but the assembled writings testify that the result of their studies was expressed along the lines indicated from the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. Their ideal was totally different from that of the old masters. The figure treated for itself with but few accessories became the sole aim of the painter. He endeavored to show the charm of a woman's face, the dainty and elegant gestures, the supple and voluptuous gait, and he grasped the characteristics and peculiarities of a man's figure by means of an intensified drawing. At times, the influence of analysis was so objective that it resulted in a painting closely approaching European standards. The taste expressed in landscape was likewise evident in figures. There were brilliant and harmonious colors, a charm which became exquisite in the coquettish and vivacious faces of women with ivory skin and brilliant eyes, of graceful movements, and with long, slender, delicate hands, incarnations of the fairies of ancient legend or historic beauties whose memory still lived.
In a word, the philosophical inspiration to which the Sung dynasty owed its glory was discarded to make way for the painting of everyday life, a realistic representation of the world and its activities, which in Japan gave rise to the Ukioyoyé school, and in China recruited a series of painters of the first rank outside the limits of academic tradition.
It would be interesting to study the influence of this movement of the China of the time of Ming upon the originators of the Ukioyoyé in Japan. It is certain that the movement on the continent preceded similar manifestations in the island empire by a century, and it is also certain that the Japanese empire was directly influenced by the China of the Ming period. Chinese painters were established in Japan as early as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. There is one of whose family name we are ignorant and who is known only under the appellation of Ju-sue,--in Japanese Josetsu. He left China, where the domination of official art stood in the way of an independent career, carried the traditions of Sung and Yuan art to Japan, gathered pupils about him there, and had the glory of being the founder of that magnificent school of which Sesshiu is the leading exponent. There is only one small painting which can be attributed to Ju-sue with certainty. This is preserved in a Japanese temple. Unfortunately it is a work of small importance which, notwithstanding its intrinsic value, by no means furnishes sufficient information to enable us to pronounce on the authenticity of several other works which are said to be by his hand. We find in the latter an extremely individual art, in accordance with early traditions, but with the addition of something fanciful and unexpected which gives this painter marked distinction. Having worked outside of China, however, his influence was not felt in the evolution of Chinese painting.
In the seventeenth century Ming art came in contact with the art of the Europeans. The methods and rules of the Italian ateliers of the end of the Renaissance were brought to China by missionary painters whose talent was of a secondary order. The system of monocular perspective and modeling, strongly accentuated by the opposition of light and shade, made a forcible impression on the Chinese mind. Indications of this are found in the Chinese books on art. But the technical methods were too different and the systems too much at variance to meet on any common ground. Notwithstanding its effect upon certain painters, the influence of European painting was on the whole negligible. Father Matteo Ricci worked at the end of the Ming period under the Chinese name of Li Ma-tu and Father Castiglione, at the beginning of the Ch'ing dynasty, used the name of Lang Chu-ning, but, although the former continued to use European methods, while the latter adopted the Chinese procedure, these were only isolated efforts submerged in the great wave of Asiatic evolution.

Chinese Painters The Yuan Period--thirteenth And Fourteenth Centuries

From the standpoint of civilization the Mongolian dynasty of Yuan brought nothing to China. On the contrary, the foreign elements were absorbed by the ancient culture for, in the final summing-up, the mind will always be stronger than weapons. From the standpoint of painting, however, this period has marked individuality.
The Sung period had been distinctly dominated by the ideals of Southern China. Philosophical inspiration had proven too strong to permit the style of the Northern School to assert absolute sway. In this we must make an exception of Buddhist painting, which,--save in the work of a few chance painters of religious subjects--continues the traditions of the T'ang period, preserving the original character of its coloring. It is true that there were masterpieces to the credit of the Northern School but it had by no means kept to the style of vivid illumination which marked its inception. It had yielded to the influence of the Southern style, was simplified by this contact and took on the austerity and proportion of the South. It would seem as if the painters hastened to add their testimony before the philosophy of the ancient sages should disappear. They strove to give the world perfect images in which the great principles of the universe could be felt vibrating. The only suitable medium for such expression was the technique of the Southern School which they followed with more or less fidelity.
It should be borne in mind that the author uses the term illumination in the sense of color applied within a distinct and limiting outline. This is illustrated in the definitions of single and double contour.--TRANSLATOR.

Southern China was at that time the scene of awakened faculties. Shaken to its foundations by the mystic movement--both Taoist and Buddhist--of the T'ang period, the Confucian doctrine had lost ground but had not yet congealed into the rigid official code of a Chu Hsi. While heterodox beliefs still prevailed, all were free to borrow their prophetic and poetic meaning.
When the Mongols came into power, they only carried to completion the work of conservation begun by the Sung emperors. In their contact with China they resembled timid pupils quite as much as conquerors. Once emperor of China, the Mongol Kublai Khan could not but remember his purely Chinese education. Moreover it was quite the Tartar custom to extend their conquests to administrative organization, by establishing a hierarchy of functionaries. The conception of a supreme and autocratic State, paternal in its absolutism, intervening even to the details of private life in order to assure the happiness of the people,--this idea, dear to the literary conservators of the Confucian School during the Sung period, was also too similar to the Tartar ideal to be denied immediate adoption. Heterodox doctrines were formally banished from schools. Rejected with scorn as being corrupt and dangerous, there remained of these doctrines only such residuum as might be found in the independent thought of artists, who were more difficult to control. The magnificent movement of the Sung period began to abate; it produced its last master pieces and gradually waned, until under Ming rule it was to die out completely.
The Yuan epoch, therefore, appears in the light of a transition period connecting the fifteenth century of Ming with the thirteenth century of Sung. From the point of view which interests us, it did nothing but complete a work which had been carried on with energy and success by adherents in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It strove to reduce China to a severely regulated State in which all great movements and impulses should be under strict control. It succeeded. It succeeded so well, indeed, that the Europeans who came to know China in the seventeenth century and who rediscovered it so unnecessarily in the nineteenth century, believed it to have been motionless for two thousand years. There is no need to lay stress here upon the absurdity of this prevalent opinion. It has been seen in the past and will be seen in modern times, that the inner travail, the evolution and the diversity are by no means arrested. Like the nations of Europe, China has had its evolution; the causes were analagous, its destiny the same. This is especially felt in the history of its painting. When the potent inspiration of the Southern School began to wane, the style of the North took the upper hand for obvious reasons.

Partially civilized barbarians occupied the highest places in the State. They were the controlling party at the imperial court and had usurped the place of the old society, refined, subtle and perhaps too studied, which formed the environment of the last Sung emperors. Despite their naïve efforts and good will, these barbarians could not fathom an art so austere, enlightened and balanced. They were utterly ignorant of such a masterly conception of nature as was evoked in Chinese painting. Monochrome to them was dull. They could admire on trust, but they could not understand. On the other hand, the Northern style with its bold assurance, strong coloring and drawing positive almost to the point of seeming sculptural, was more akin to their mental outlook. There at least they found something which recalled those rugs on which they appear to have exhausted their artistic resources. In a word, they were more accustomed to the Northern style and had brought with them from the Northern regions their own artists, both Chinese and barbarian.
The Northern temperament, reflective, strong and positive, now began to assume mastery over the bewildered reveries of the Southern nature. Things are seen to change. Even the masters who continue the Sung tradition infuse a somewhat more robust quality into their works, but, in so doing, they lose a certain stirring depth which gave the work of their predecessors such an exceptional character. Caught between these two tendencies, Yuan painting takes on new traits, which are perhaps more accessible to European mentality because they are more simple and direct. These observations apply to the general evolution of Chinese painting from the end of the thirteenth to the end of the fourteenth centuries. We must now consider it more in detail, citing by way of illustration a few of the painters who expressed the spirit of the time.
At its inception the Yuan dynasty had inherited the last masters of the Sung period, among them two artists who are recognized as of the first rank. Chao Mêng-fu--known also under the appellation of Tzu-ang--was born in 1254. He was a descendant of the first Sung emperor and held an hereditary post which he resigned at the time the Yuan dynasty came into power. He retired into private life until 1286, then when called back to court as a high functionary, he became a supporter of the new dynasty. Chao Mêng-fu painted landscape as well as figures, flowers and the bamboo, but he is most celebrated for his horses. Numberless paintings of horses are attributed to this master; needless to say the great majority of these are not by his hand.

As a landscape painter he seems to have worked in the style of the Southern School, with a fine, simple line in which may still be seen traces of the ancient tradition that extends back to Ku K'ai-chih. This characteristic line is found in the paintings of men and horses where the hand of Chao Mêng-fu is distinguishable. He bequeaths it to the large school which he founded, and, through his pupils, it becomes the inheritance of his imitators in the Ming period. It is more than probable that almost all of the paintings by his pupils, bearing the signature Tz-ang, are attributed to the master, while his own paintings are ascribed to Han Kan, painter of horses in the T'ang period. However, among the numerous works attributed to Chao Mêng-fu, there are a few in which we recognize the vibrant and flexible line which is seen in his landscapes. These paintings bear the signature of Tz-ang, in all probability a false one, but the work of art itself will always be of greater value in determining its authenticity than the most impressive of inscriptions. If the technique and the quality of the line are sufficiently similar to warrant attributing to the same hand the landscape in the British Museum, and any particular painting of horses, this may be regarded as sufficient evidence on which to base our own opinion as to his style.
Amongst his grooms and mounted soldiers, Chao Mêng-fu painted the different races which the wave of Mongolian invasion had swept into China: Chinese from the central provinces, Tartars, Mongols with fur caps, Moslems of a Semitic type from Turkestan, with white turbans and heavy earrings. Whether his subject was the little Tartar horse from the Mongolian plains or the beautiful steeds of ancient Transoxiana, always brought as tribute by way of Khotan to the Chinese court, he gave the life of the horse a singular beauty, portraying him in an equally happy manner whether in the act of racing or in the attitudes of repose. In his mind still dwelt the vision of Sung ideals, which proclaimed the hidden soul of things and valued spirituality and life in a painting. Although we see marked evidence of the Southern style in his work, his paintings are more strongly colored than are those of that school. The influence of the Yuan period begins to make itself felt. It brings out values in colored pigment, emphasizes its violence and paves the way for a new tradition.
Chao Mêng-fu has been compared by Chinese critics to his great predecessor Han Kan. The writings, however, are unanimous in stating that, notwithstanding his undeniable mastery, he lacked something of the vigor of the earlier master. When we attempt to compare the two styles through the aid of paintings of the T'ang period, wherein a reflection of the great animal painter may be sought, the writings appear to be confirmed in attributing a more positive and forceful character to the work of Han Kan or the unknown group of painters around him. But Chao Mêng-fu seems to have possessed in a higher degree the feeling of movement and life, and to have been less hampered in his choice of poses. Centuries of study and of observation had intervened between the great animal painter of the T'ang epoch and his worthy rival of a later period.

Like Chao Mêng-fu, Ch'ien Hsuan, or Ch'ien Shun-chu, retired from public life at the downfall of the Sung dynasty. He was a member of a group of the faithful over which Chao presided, but, more decided than the latter in his opposition to the new dynasty, he was indignant at his confrère's defection and refused to follow his example. He lived in retirement, devoting himself to painting and to poetry up to the time of his death. He also continued the Sung tradition under the Yuan dynasty to which, as a matter of fact, he belonged only during the second part of his life. He painted figures, landscape, flowers and birds. His delicate line is not lacking in strength, and he seems to have been especially endowed with a sense of form which approached greatness in its simplicity. Whether the subject is a young prince or a pigeon perched on the summit of a rock from which chrysanthemums are springing, the same dignified and tranquil nobility is asserted with ease. He still used the quiet and restrained coloring of the Sung period and prolonged, without impairing it, the great tradition that a century and a half could not quite efface.
Of Yen Hui we know almost nothing; the books state briefly that he painted Buddhist figures, birds and flowers, and that he was past master in the painting of demons. Nothing is known of the date of his birth or if, by his age and training, he could be classed in the Sung period, but several admirable paintings by him are extant which serve to show how Sung art was still interpreted by exceptional masters in the Yuan period. His line is strong, broader, fuller and more abrupt than that of Chao Mêng-fu or Ch'ien Shun-chu. The quivering vitality that emanates from his pictures is thrilling. Whether the subject is a peony heavy with dew, whose drooping petals presage the approaching end, or a Buddhist monk patching his mantle, the fleeting moment is seized with such intuitive power that prolonged contemplation of the painting creates the impression that it is suddenly about to come to life. There is something sturdier, more startling, less dreamy in these great painters who continue the traditions of Sung art; their work alone demonstrated that tradition could be revived and that ancient China, under the Mongolian dynasty, was still preserving its creative spirit and advancing resolutely into fertile fields.
In Huang Kung-wang and Ni Tsan, we approach a different order of things. Lines began to take on a classical character, to be divided into a series of different types, which painters adopted according to their temperament and requirements, and finally became impersonal and academic. Both of these painters, nevertheless, were under the spell of early influences extending back to the T'ang artists. Through study of these old masters they returned to the use of a full and sometimes vivid color, but kept a profound love of nature, and a fresh and original vision, by which they still perpetuated the inspiration of Sung painting in a new form. With these painters, however, new features appeared. Reds and purples became dominant notes amidst rich greens which set them off and enhanced their brilliancy. The vision of landscape itself is somewhat more realistic and less subtle. In all of these essentials Ni Tsan, who died in 1374, brings us nearer to the Ming period.

Simultaneously, though quite apart, marked tendencies of a different character were evident. The old masters of the T'ang period had again returned to favor. The vivid illumination and color distinct from drawing, in these firm and vigorous works appealed to the untutored barbarian. On the other hand, the studies of the Sung period had not been fruitless; therefore when, under these influences, the use of color was resumed, the painters profited by what the practice of monochrome had taught meanwhile. In the Yuan period appear those paintings which are attacked directly with a dripping brush without preliminary drawing, the forms being modeled in the color itself. The Chinese called this painting "without bones," in other words, deprived of the assistance of line. This procedure was first used by a painter of the Sung period, but it did not take root definitely until the time when the practice of using Chinese ink as a medium to express tones had taught painters how to model forms in color itself, making the structure depend upon color.
Seen as a whole, the Yuan period witnessed the assembling, the concentration, so to speak, of the ardent but scattered inspirations of the great masters of the preceding school. It produced splendid compositions in which the golden age of Chinese painting continued to be manifest. Masters arose and if, in spite of all, they mark a reaction toward the Northern style, seeking rich and vivid color, they give us a vision of beauty that is equal to the work of their predecessors.
Meanwhile grave signs of decadence were apparent. Composition became overladen and complex and began to lose something of the noble simplicity, greatness and supreme charm of the old masters. It was evident that the Yuan painters were working under the eye of the barbarians. They yielded to the taste of the latter for anecdote, for surmounting difficulties and for sentimental detail. Thus far there were only scarcely perceptible shadows and momentary weaknesses, warning signs of decadence; but when such signs are evident, decadence is at hand, and that which the virility of the barbarians had preserved was to be lost through the creed-bound dignity of an academic China, which was imprisoned in a rigid system of rules.

Chinese Painters Representation Of Forms

It has often been said that in Chinese painting, as in Japanese painting, perspective is ignored. Nothing is further from the truth. This error arises from the fact that we have confused one system of perspective with perspective as a whole. There are as many systems of perspective as there are conventional laws for the representation of space.
The practice of drawing and painting offers the student the following problem in descriptive geometry: to represent the three dimensions of space by means of a plane surface of two dimensions. The Egyptians and Assyrians solved this problem by throwing down vertical objects upon one plane, which demands a great effort of abstraction on the part of the observer. European perspective, built up in the fifteenth century upon the remains of the geometric knowledge of the Greeks, is based on the monocular theory used by the latter. In this system, it is assumed that the picture is viewed with the eye fixed on a single point. Therefore the conditions of foreshortening--or distorting the actual dimensions according to the angle from which they are seen--are governed by placing in harmony the distance of the eye from the scheme of the picture, the height of the eye in relation to the objects to be depicted, and the relative position of these objects with reference to the surface employed.

But, in assuming that the picture is viewed with the eye fixed on a single point, we put ourselves in conditions which are not those of nature. The European painter must therefore compromise with the exigencies of binocular vision, modify the too abrupt fading of forms and, in fine, evade over-exact principles. Thus he arrives at a perspective de sentiment, which is the one used by our masters.
Chinese perspective was formulated long before that of the Europeans and its origins are therefore different. It was evolved in an age when the method of superimposing different registers to indicate different planes was still being practiced in bas-reliefs. The succession of planes, one above the other, when codified, led to a system that was totally different from our monocular perspective. It resulted in a perspective as seen from a height. No account is taken of the habitual height of the eye in relation to the picture. The line of the horizon is placed very high, parallel lines, instead of joining at the horizon, remain parallel, and the different planes range one above the other in such a way that the glance embraces a vast space. Under these conditions, the picture becomes either high and narrow--a hanging picture--to show the successive planes, or broad in the form of a scroll, unrolling to reveal an endless panorama. These are the two forms best known under their Japanese names of kakemono and makimono.
But the Chinese painter must attenuate the forms where they are parallel, give a natural appearance to their position on different levels and consider the degree of their reduction demanded by the various planes. Even he must compromise with binocular vision and arrive at a perspective de sentiment which, like our own, while scientifically false, is artistically true. To this linear perspective is added moreover an atmospheric perspective.
Having elected from a very early time to paint in monochrome, Chinese painters were led by the nature of this medium to seek to express atmospheric perspective by means of tone values and harmony of shading instead of by color. Thus they were familiar with chiaroscuro before the European painters. Wang Wei established the principles of atmospheric perspective in the eighth century. He explains how tints are graded, how the increasing thickness of layers of air deprives distant objects of their true coloring, substituting a bluish tinge, and how forms become indistinct in proportion as their distance from the observer increases. His testimony in this respect is similar to that of Leonardo da Vinci in his "Treatise on Painting."
The Chinese terms are Li Chou for a vertical painting and Hêng P'i for a horizontal painting.--TRANSLATOR.

Chinese Painters Division Of Subjects

The Chinese divide the subjects of painting into four principal classes, as follows:
Landscape. Man and Objects. Flowers and Birds. Plants and Insects.
Nowhere do we see a predominant place assigned to the drawing or painting of the human figure. This alone is sufficient to mark the wide difference between Chinese and European painting.
The exact name for Landscape is translated by the words mountain and water picture. They recall the ancient conception of Creation on which the Oriental system of the world is founded. The mountain exemplifies the teeming life of the earth. It is threaded by veins wherein waters continuously flow. Cascades, brooks and torrents are the outward evidence of this inner travail. By its own superabundance of life, it brings forth clouds and arrays itself in mists, thus being a manifestation of the two principles which rule the life of the universe.
The second class, Man and Objects, must be understood principally as concerning man, his works, his belongings, and, in a general sense, all things created by the hand of man, in combination with landscape. This was the convention in early times when the first painters whose artistic purpose can be formulated with certainty, portrayed the history of the legendary beings of Taoism,--the genii and fairies dwelling amidst an imaginary Nature. The records tell us, to be sure, that the early masters painted portraits, but it was at a later period that Man and Objects composed a class distinct from Landscape, a period responsible for those ancestral portraits painted after death, which are almost always attributable to ordinary artisans. Earlier they endeavored to apply to figure painting the methods, technique and laws established for an ensemble in which the thought of nature predominated. Special rules bearing on this subject are sometimes found of a very early date but there is no indication that they were collected into a definite system until the end of the seventeenth century. Up to the present time our only knowledge of their content is through a small treatise published at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The third class, Flowers and Birds, deals with those paintings wherein the Chinese gave rein to their fancy for painting the bird in conjunction with the plant life associated with its home and habits. The bird is treated with a full understanding of its life, and flowers are studied with such a comprehension of their essential structure that a botanist can readily detect the characteristics typical of a species, despite the simplifications which an artist always imposes on the complexity of forms.

This general class is subdivided. The epidendrum, the iris, the orchis and the chrysanthemum became special studies each of which had its own masters, both from the standpoint of painting itself, and of the application of the aesthetic rules which govern this art. The bamboo and the plum tree are also allied to this class. Under the influence of philosophic and symbolic ideas they furnished a special category of subjects to the imagination of the painter and form a division apart which has its own laws and methods, regarding which the Chinese treatises on Aesthetics inform us fully.
Finally, the fourth class, Plants and Insects, is based upon the same conception as that of Flowers and Birds. The insect is represented with the plant which is his habitat when in the stage of caterpillar and larva, or flying above the flowers and plants upon which he subsists on reaching the stage of butterfly and insect. Certain books add to this fourth class a subdivision comprising fishes.
Lastly we must note that in the Far East, as in Europe, there is a special class to be taken into consideration, Religious paintings. In China, this refers almost exclusively to Buddhist paintings.

Chinese Painters Inspiration

The aesthetic conceptions of the Far East have been deeply influenced by a special philosophy of nature. The Chinese consider the relation of the two principles, male and female, the yang and the yin, as the source of the universe. Detached from the primordial unity, they give birth to the forms of this world by ever varying degrees of combination. Heaven corresponds to the male principle, earth to the female principle. Everything upon the earth, beings, plants, animals or man is formed by the mingling of yang and yin. While the mountain, enveloped in mists, recalls the union of these two principles, the legend of forces thus revealed by no means pauses here. Fabulous or real, the animals and plants habitually seen in Chinese paintings express a like conception.
The dragon is the ancestor of everything that bears feathers or scales. He represents the element of water, the waters of the earth, the mists of the air, the heavenly principle. He is seen breaking through the clouds like some monstrous apparition, unveiling for an instant the greatness of a mystery barely discerned. The tiger is the symbol of the earthly principle, a personification of quadrupeds as distinct from birds and reptiles. His ferocious form lurks in the tempest. Defying the hurricane which bends the bamboos and uproots trees, he challenges the furies of nature that are hostile to the expression of the universal soul. The bamboo is the symbol of wisdom, the pine is the emblem of will-power and life. The plum tree in flower is a harmonious combination of the two principles. It symbolizes virginal purity.

Thus is built up a complete system of allusions similar to the allegories of our own classics but superior in that they never degenerate into frozen symbols, but on the contrary keep in close touch with nature, investing her with a vibrant life, in which human consciousness vanishes making way for the dawning consciousness of infinitude.
Buddhism goes still further. It does not even believe in the reality of the world. In this belief, forms are but transitory, the universe an illusion forever flowing into an unending future. Outside of the supreme repose, in the six worlds of desire, the things that are susceptible to pain and death pursue their evolution. Souls travel this closed cycle under the most diverse forms, from hell to the gods, advancing or retreating, in accordance with the good deeds or errors committed in previous existences. A stone, a plant, an insect, a demon, or a god are only illusory forms, each encompassing an identical soul on its way to deliverance, as it is caught at different stages of its long calvary and imprisoned through original sin and the instinctive desire for life. Whence we see emerging a new feeling of charity which embraces all beings. Their moral character is felt to be the same as that of man, their goal is the same, and in the vast world of illusion each seeks to fulfill the same destiny.
These are: the worlds of animals, of man, of gods or dêvas, of giants or asuras, of prêtas or wandering spirits, and of hells. Freedom from perpetual transmigration in these six worlds is attained only through the extinction of desire.
Behind the changes of the universe the Buddhist perceives the primal substance that pervades all creation. There results from this an intimacy with things which exists in no other creed. From inert matter to the most highly organized being, all creation is thus endowed with a sense of kinship that is destined to make a tender and stirring appeal in the artist's interpretation of nature.
* * * * *
The origins of painting in China are mingled with the origins of writing. Written characters are, in fact, derived from pictography or picture writing, those in use at the present time being only developed and conventionalized forms of primitive drawings. The early books and dictionaries give us definite information regarding this evolution. But while history bears witness to this ancient connection, we do not come into contact with actual evidence until the third century of our era, through the bas-reliefs of the Han dynasty, and in the fourth century through the paintings of Ku K'ai-chih. Here we find by no means the origin of an evolution but, on the contrary, the last traces of an expiring tradition.

Chinese Painters Before The Intervention Of Buddhism

The bas-reliefs of the Han dynasty are almost all comprised in the sculptured stone slabs embellishing mortuary chambers and of these the artistic merit is most unequal. Their technique is primitive. It consists in making the contours of figures by cutting away the stone in grooves with softened angles, leaving the figure in silhouette. Engraved lines complete the drawing.
The subjects are sometimes mythical and sometimes legendary. There are representations of divinities, fabulous animals, scenes of war and of the chase and processions of people bearing tribute. At times the great compositions display imposing spectacles, a luxurious and refined array. Now and then attempts at pictorial perspective are joined to some unrelated scene.
All this is in direct conflict with the technique of bas-reliefs and leads to the surmise that the models were drawn by painters and copied with more or less skill by makers of funeral monuments.
These bas-reliefs have been studied by M. Chavannes in "La sculpture sur pierre en Chine au temps des deux dynasties Han," Paris, 1893; also in "Mission archéologique en Chine," Paris, 1910. Rubbings taken from the sculptured slabs are reproduced here in full.

This impression is confirmed if certain carved slabs are compared with a painting by Ku K'ai-chih, of which we can judge by means of a copy made in the Sung period. One of the scenes of this long scroll leaves no possible misapprehension as to the pictorial origin of the Han bas-reliefs. Its subject, a river god on a chariot drawn by dragons, is similar in composition to the models used by the artisans of the third century.
We have, however, better testimony than a copy made at a later period. The British Museum, in London, is the owner of a painting attributed to Ku K'ai-chih. The reasons impelling us to believe in its authenticity are weighty, almost indisputable. We therefore accept it here and will endeavor to define the work of one of the greatest painters of China in the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century.
This painting formed part of the collection of the ex-viceroy Tuan Fang, killed in 1911, during the revolution. It was published in 1911 by the Japanese archeologist, Mr. Taki.
These reasons are set forth in a work which Mr. Laurence Binyon is preparing, to accompany a reproduction engraved by Japanese artists for the British Museum.
The preceding footnote refers to a work published in 1913 by the Trustees of the British Museum, containing a reproduction of the painting in its entirety and giving a full description.--TRANSLATOR.
The painted scenes are inspired by a work of the third century containing admonitions addressed to the ladies of the imperial palace. The striking characteristics of these compositions are the lightness and delicacy of style, the poetry of the attitudes and the supreme elegance of the forms. Heavy black tresses frame the ivory faces with refined and subtle charm. The voluptuous caprice of garments in long floating folds, the extreme perfection of the figures and the grace of gestures make this painting a thing of unique beauty. Only through the cultivation of centuries could such spiritual insight be attained.
If the copy from the collection of Tuan Fang recalls the bas-reliefs of the Han period, the painting in the British Museum is related to the bas-reliefs of Long-men, which date from the seventh century and of which M. Chavannes has published photographs. Therefore we may say that the style of Ku K'ai-chih exemplifies the distinctive features of Chinese painting at a period extending from the third to the seventh centuries.
A copy of an engraving on stone of the year 1095, representing "Confucius sitting amidst his disciples" and another representing "Confucius walking, followed by one of his disciples," dated 1118, have been published by M. de Chavannes . The latter is considered as having been undoubtedly executed after a painting by Ku K'ai-chih.
It should also be noted that toward the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth century, the painter and critic Hsieh Ho formulated the Six Canons upon which the far-eastern code of Aesthetics is founded. These Canons introduce philosophical conceptions and technical knowledge which also presuppose long cultivation, for it is only after rules have been brought to reality in a work of art that they are formulated into a code. Therefore when Buddhism appeared in China it found there a native art whose value was proved beyond question by a long succession of masterpieces. After having exhausted every manifestation of strength and vigor, this art had arrived at expressions of extreme refinement and profound and appealing charm, closely verging on the disquieting dreams of decadence.
Interpretations of the Six Canons by five authorities are accessible in a very convenient form for comparison in Mr. Laurence Binyon's "Flight of the Dragon," p. 12.--TRANSLATOR.