and Ten Kingdoms (907-60)
Jing Hao (c.870-925)
Landscape painter and the author of a famous treatise on painting, Bifaji.
Travellers in a Snowy Landscape (excavated from a tomb), is one
of his works. (Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City).
Guan Tong (flourished c.907-23)
After the fall of the Tang dynasty he became a subject of the later Liang
dynasty (907-23), which ruled north China, and was admired, along with
Fan Kuan and Li Cheng, as one of the three greatest landscape painters
of the tenth century. Jing Hao was his teacher early in his career. In
his later years he painted with a relatively free, unlaboured and sketchy
brushwork. Waiting for the Ferry, NPM, Taipei.
Li Cheng (919-67)
One of the most influential masters of the Five Dynasties and early Northern
Song, known for his wintry landscapes, especially for his leafless trees.
He is said to have used ink very sparingly. He came from a family of scholar-officials
and was himself a scholar. Probably no original works by him survive,
but Lonely Monastery amid Clearing Peaks, Nelson-Atkins Museum,
Kansas City, is a fine Northern Song painting attributed to him.
Dong Yuan (d.962)
From Nanjing, Jiangsu province. His fame rests on his landscapes, which
greatly influenced the leading masters of the late Yuan period (fourteenth
century). He was later named as the leading master of Dong Qichang's Southern
school of landscape painting. He and his follower Juran painted river
landscapes textured with long, soft, earthy brushstrokes, his mountain
slopes gently rounded and piled with boulders, moist and misty like the
actual landscapes of the Jiangnan (lower Yangzi) region where he worked.
Attributed paintings include Xiao and Xiang Rivers, Gugong, Beijing,
and Wintry Forests and Lake Shores, Kurokawa Institute, Hyogo,
Shi Ke (d.975)
Famous for his humorous subjects and wall paintings. Ordered by the Emperor
Taizu to paint Buddhist and Daoist figures in the Xiangguo monastery in
the capital, Kaifeng. Two Patriarchs Harmonising their Minds, Tokyo
National Museum, though possibly a later copy, is the oldest extant example
of Chan (Zen) painting with garments portrayed by rough brushwork and
faces delineated in fine detail.
Juran (flourished 960-85)
Monk painter and follower of Dong Yuan , using similar 'hemp-fibre' strokes,
interspersed with rounded 'alum-head' boulders. Seeking the Dao in
the Autumn Mountains and Xiao Yi Seizing the Lanting, NPM,
Taipei; Buddhist Monastery on a Mountainside, Cleveland Museum,
Ohio. The British Museum has an impressive landscape hanging scroll bearing
his name but actually a twentieth-century forgery by Zhang Dagian (Chang
Works by Unknown Painters: Five Dynasties
and Ten Kingdoms
The British Museum has a large collection
of anonymous Buddhist manuscripts, textiles and paintings which were discovered
in cave 17 at the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, Dunhuang, Gansu province,
in the closing years of the nineteenth century. Marc Aurel Stein, the
first Westerner to visit the site after the discovery, collected some
five hundred drawings, paintings and prints and over ten thousand manuscript
scrolls from this cave. About two hundred of the paintings and prints
are in the British Museum, the remainder in New Delhi, and the manuscripts
in the British Library. Other paintings from the same source are in the
Pelliot collection in the Musee Guimet, Paris, and further manuscripts
in the Bibliothegue Nationale, Paris. The paintings, on silk, hemp cloth
or paper, include votive paintings dedicated by lay Buddhists, as well
as large compositions depicting the Pure Lands or paradises in which they
hoped to be reborn. The British Museum also has a number of other anonymous
religious paintings, mainly of Buddhist and occasionally of Daoist figures.
Among them, The Thirteenth Arhat, Ingada (1345), and Four Arhats
and Attendants (Ming dynasty, fifteenth century) are both single examples
from sets of paintings of arhats or luohans, guardians of the Buddhist
law often represented in China in groups of sixteen, eighteen or five
Song Dynasty (960-1270)
Fan Kuan (c.960-1030)
Born Huayuan, Shaanxi province. Famous for austere and grand landscapes.
Together with Li Cheng, he developed the so-called monumental style of
landscape. He was known for his 'raindrop' surface modelling strokes (cun).
He chose to live in a barren, mountainous area in Taihua in the Zhongnan
mountains. Surviving works include Travellers among Streams and Mountains,
Yan Wengui (967-1044)
Born Wuxing, Zhejiang province. Academy painter under the third Song emperor.
His style was as monumental as that of his contemporary Fan Kuan, with
a show of profusion and turbulence in his paintings. Works include Temples
among Streams and Mountains, NPM, Taipei; River and Mountains with
Temples, hand-scroll, Osaka City Museum, Japan.
Xu Daoning (c.970-1051)
From Chang'an, Shaanxi province. Like Guo Xi, he was a follower of Li
Cheng and regarded very highly by his contemporaries. His Fishing in
a Mountain Stream, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, is a majestic
handscroll with fishermen and travellers, a roadside inn and secluded
pavilions, all dwarfed by an outlandish series of precipirous cliffs and
stark mountain ranges.
Guo Xi (c.1001-c.1090)
Born northern Henan province. According to his contemporaries, he was
a skilful landscape painter in the Imperial Academy. He was also the author
of an essay entitled 'Lofty Message of Forests and Streams', an exceedingly
valuable source of information on Song attitudes to landscape and techniques
of composition and brushwork. He painted landscapes after the style of
Li Cheng, using texture strokes and ink wash to create the illusion of
space and distance, with more complex compositions than those of earlier
painters such as Fan Kuan. Mountains were the dominant elements of his
compositions, changing in appearance according to the seasons; his paintings
display atmospheric effects which would be further developed by the Southern
Song painters. Early Spring, NPM, Taipei, is an impressive hanging
scroll on silk, signed and dated 1072.
Su Shi (1036-1101)
Famous statesman, poet, calligrapher, art critic and painter of bamboo,
also known as Su Dongpo. With those in his circle, such as the bamboo
painter Wen Tong and the calligrapher Huang Tingjian, he established the
concept of wenrenhua, that is, painting by literati, arguing that
painting could share the values and status of poetry. In his view, 'natural
genius and originality' were more important than form-likeness in painting.
He held official posts but was also banished several times during his
career. None of his paintings survive, but Dry Tree, Bamboo and Stone,
Shanghai Museum, is attributed to him and provides clues to his subject
matter and manner. Many examples of his calligraphy are still extant.
Li Gonglin/ Li Longmian (c.1049-1106)
Born Shucheng, Anhui province. Most famous figure painter of the Northern
Song period. He painted in baimiao (outline drawing),
a fine linear style derived from Gu Kaizhi, associated with historical
themes and Buddhist divinities, and also in the Wu Daozi tradition with
short and lively, fluctuating brushwork. He was also appreciated as a
painter of horses and landscapes. Thus, Li was the firstr artist to transmit
the styles of several past masters rather than that of just one, establishing
classic standards in each genre. Five Tribute Horses and Grooms
(present whereabouts unknown) was the finest example of his work; Metamorphoses
of Heavenly Beings, British Museum, is a close copy of his style,
perhaps early Ming in date.
Li Tang (c. 1050-1130)
Born Sancheng, northern Henan province. Academy painter under the Song
Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song in the capital Bianliang (present-day
Kaifeng) and then under Gaozong of the Southern Song at Lin'an (present-day
Hangzhou). As a transitional painter, his landscapes include subjects
on a smaller scale than those of the great Northern Song masters, and
his techniques innovate the axe-cut stroke produced with a slanting brush.
Extant works include Autumn and Winter Landscapes, Koto-in, Daitoku-ji,
Kyoto; Whispering Pines in the Gorges, dated 1120, NPM, Taipei;
Gathering Herbs, Gugong, Beijing.
Mi Fu (1051-1107)
Born Hubei province. An intellectual as well as a painter and calligrapher,
and also known for his critical connoisseurship of paintings and calligraphy.
He was the author of Huashi (The History of Painting). He painted
foliage with large, wet dots and rocks with soft modelling. Only Verdant
Mountains with Pine Trees, NPM, Taipei, is extant; more works survive
by his son Mi Youren (1086-1165).
Zhao Danian/ Zhao Lingrang (flourished
Descendant of the Song royal family and collector of ancient paintings.
His paintings are more intimate than those of most of his Northern Song
contemporaries, being on a small scale, with a simplicity of design and
a new realism. Extant work: River Village in Clear Summer, Museum
of Fine Arts, Boston.
Effectively the last Northern Song emperor (ruled 1101-25) before both
he and his successor were captured and exiled. He was an aesthete and
eminent calligrapher and painter, specialising in birds and floral still
life painting. He surrounded himself with the court artists of the
Academy of painting and took an active part in supervising them, neglecting
state affairs. Paintings include Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk,
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (copied from the Tang dynasty artist Zhang
Xuan); Listening to the Qin, Gugong, Beijing; Gardenia and Lichi
with Birds, British Museum a handscroll, attributed to him but probably
by a court artist, showing the colourful and close description of nature
so valued at his court, and signed with the imperial cipher.
Ma Hezhi (flourished c.1131-62)
From Zhejiang province. Official at the court of the Southern Song Emperor
Gaozong, who commissioned him to illustrate the Confucian classic Shijing
(Book of Songs) as patt of a series of paintings with themes proving the
legitimacy of his rule, in the face of the occupation of north China by
the Jin. Illustrations to the Odes of Chen (British Museum) is
one of the finest surviving examples of this series with ten scenes accompanied
by the appropriate odes in the calligraphy of Emperor Gaozong. Two of
the odes from this scroll were reproduced by Dong Qichang as models of
Gaozong's writing; on some of the series the calligraphy was actually
written by a court calligrapher (though attributed to the emperor himself).
Ma used the so-called 'orchid leaf' and 'grasshopper-waist' style of fluctuating
brushwork to depict the reverence necessary for such a canonised work
of literature, transforming the fluctuating drapery lines of the Tang
painter Wu Daozi.
Zhang Zeduan (flourished early twelfth
From Shandong province. A colophon on his sole surviving work informs
us that he was a member of the Hanlin Academy, specialising in buildings,
boats, carriages and bridges, etc. His extant masterpiece is the handscroll
Going up the River on Qingming Day, Gugong, Beijing, a celebration
of the varied and busy scenes in and around the capital of the Notthern
Song, painted shortly before the city was captured by the Jin in 1126.
Xia Gui (flourished 1180-1224)
Painter, at the Hangzhou Academy, of landscapes, and Buddhist and Daoist
figures. He later retired from court life to a Chan (Zen) Buddhist temple.
He was a younger contemporary of Ma Yuan. Extant works include Twelve
Views from a Thatched Cottage, handscroll, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas
City; River Landscape in Rain and Wind, fan painting, Museum of
Fine Arts, Boston.
Ma Yuan (flourished 1190-1225)
Fourth generation of a famous family at the Academy of painting and himself
a foremost Southern Song painter, strongly influenced by Li Tang. The
soft scenery around Hangzhou, conducive to intimate landscape scenes,
encouraged painters to turn away from the monumental Northern Song landscape
style. The Academy painters Ma Yuan and Xia Gui, often referred to as
the Ma-Xia school, used ink washes to create effects of light and mist,
employing a 'one-corner' type of composition. Their style was to influence
the court painters of the early Ming dynasty, such as Li Zai, when Chinese
rule was re-established after the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty. Works
include Banquet by Lantern Light, NPM, Taipei; Bare Willows
and Distant Mountains, fan painting, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;
Composing Poetry on a Spring Outing, hand-scroll, Nelson-Atkins
Museum, Kansas City.
Liang Kai (early 13th century)
From Shandong province. Noted for his figures, landscapes, and Daoist
and Buddhist subjects. 'Painter in attendance' at Hangzhou (Southern Song
capital) painting academy, from 1201. Extant works: Sakyamuni Leaving
the Mountains, Shima Euiuichi collection, Tokyo; The Supreme Daoist
Master Holding Court, Wango Weng collection, a detailed outline sketch
for a wall painting in a Daoist temple; The Sixth Patriarch Chopping
Bamboo, Tokyo National Museum, a fine example of Chan subjects that
became popular in Japan as Zen painting; The Poet Li Taibo, NPM,
Taipei, a masterpiece of economy in brushwork.
Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368)
Qian Xuan (c.1235-1301)
Born Wuxing, Zhejiang province. Gained the jinshi (doctoral) degree in
the Jing-ding reign (1260-4) and was learned in literature and music;
he never served the Mongol regime. Closely followed by Zhao Mengfu, he
was the first to practise a deliberate archaism, especially in landscape.
Dwelling in the Mountains, Gugong, Beijing, is in the 'blue and green'
style. His flower paintings are finely detailed but with a certain blandness,
shared by his calligraphy, usually inscribed on the same paper as the
painting itself. Extant works: Young Noble on a Horse, British
Museum; Pear Blossoms (formerly Sir Percival David collection),
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Early Autumn, Detroit
Institute of Art, Michigan.
Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322)
Relation of the Song dynastic royal family who nevertheless took office
under the Yuan dynasty, for which he was much criticised. He was the foremost
calligrapher, painter and statesman of his day. In painting he followed
the lead of Qian Xuan in cultivating the 'spirit of antiguity', but his
art could only have been possible at this time. For instance, Autumn
Colours at the Qiao and Hua Mountains, NPM, Taipei, was painted for
a friend who, because of the Jin rule of north China in the Southern Song
period, had never been able to travel to his native district. The Mind
Landscape of Xie Youyu, Princeton Art Museum, New Jersey, reflects
Zhao's own ambivalent position by portraying a 4th-century scholar-recluse
who served at court yet preserved the purity of his mind. The Water
Village, dated 1302, Gugong, Beijing, exhibits the unified ground
plane and simplified brushwork that would be emulated by late Yuan masters
Ren Renfa (1255-1328)
From Songjiang, Jiangsu province. Bureaucrat and painter of horses and
landscapes. His inscription on Fat and Lean Horses, Gugong, Beijing,
likens the two horses to different types of official, one who grows fat
in office, the other who gives his all to serve the people.
Huang Gongwang (1269-1354)
Born Jiangsu province. One of the four masters of the late Yuan. Along
with Wu Zhen, Ni Zan and Wang Meng, he pioneered a landscape style that
was to inspire countless variations by later painters, bringing landscape
wholly within the repertoire of the scholar-painter or wenren.
Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, dated 1350, NPM, Taipei, is his
most famous work, displaying a limited range of motifs to create a monumental
composition of rivers, forests and mountain ranges of unlimited scope.
Wu Zhen (1280-1354)
Another of the four masters of the late Yuan. His landscape paintings
are, like those of Huang Gongwang, in the tradition of Juran and Dong
Yuan. They show the use of a well-soaked brush and deliberate, rounded
strokes and dots. The NPM, Taipei, has a number of his paintings including
Twin Junipers, The Central Mountain and Stalks of Bamboo
beside a Rock.
Ni Zan (1301-74)
Third of the four masters of the late Yuan. Also a poet, calligrapher
and landscape painter. From a wealthy family in Jiangsu province, he gave
up his fortune to lead a simple life on a boat. He is famous for his dry
ink brushwork executed with a slanted brush, and for his sparse dots of
intense black. The Rongxi Studio, dated 1372, NPM, Taipei, and
Autumn Clearing over a Fishing Lodge, Shanghai Museum, both exhibit
his favourite subject, a small pavilion with bare trees, and favourite
compositional scheme, with foreground rocks, a stretch of water and distant
Wang Meng (1308-85)
Grandson of Zhao Mengfu, from Zhejiang province, surviving briefly into
the Ming dynasty and dying in prison. A landscape painter in the style
of Dong Yuan and Juran, and one of the four masters of the late Yuan,
his main contribution to Yuan painting is the portrayal of mountains as
colossal features, exuberant, executed with an extremely varied and rich
repertoire of brush techniques, in contrast to the spare and dry style
of Ni Zan. His
Qingbian Mountains, dated 1366, is in Shanghai Museum; Dwelling
in Summer Mountains, at Gugong, Beijing.