Fig­ure Paint­ings of the Ming and Qing Dy­nas­ties

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Wang Hui­hui Edited by Mark Zuiderveld

The Man Writ­ten by Paint­brush and Ink— Fig­ure Paint­ings of the Ming and Qing Dy­nas­ties ex­hi­bi­tion at the Bei­jing Fine Art Academy dis­plays 62 fig­ure paint­ings, and runs un­til Novem­ber 19.

As one of the ex­hi­bi­tions of the “An­cient Chi­nese Paint­ing and Cal­lig­ra­phy Re­search” se­ries held at the Bei­jing Fine Art Academy, the Man Writ­ten by Paint­brush and Ink— Fig­ure Paint­ings of the Ming and Qing Dy­nas­ties ex­hi­bi­tion is an­other an­cient cal­lig­ra­phy and paint­ing ex­hi­bi­tion jointly held by sev­eral cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. The Palace Mu­seum, Shang­hai Mu­seum, Nan­jing Mu­seum and Tian­jin Mu­seum dis­play 62 fig­ure paint­ings of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dy­nas­ties, al­low­ing visi­tors to un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate paint­ings cre­ated dur­ing that pe­riod. The ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til Novem­ber 19.

Mor­tal Be­ings of the Ming and Qing Dy­nas­ties

Chi­nese fig­ure paint­ings dur­ing the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties didn’t aim to show the true ap­pear­ances of the char­ac­ters, but to re­flect their iden­tity, sta­tus and tem­per­a­ment by set­ting them in a unique cir­cum­stance, such as a gar­den and study. The ex­hi­bi­tion is di­vided into four sec­tions—“love in Wa­ter and Stone— El­e­gant Plea­sure,” “Mun­dane World un­der the Paint­brush—por­trait,” “Red Sleeves in Paint­ing—beauty” and “Dis­tinct Ap­pear­ances—med­i­ta­tion.” Among the sec­tions, “El­e­gant Plea­sure” ex­presses the leisure of literati at that time. For ex­am­ple, the “Paint­ing of a Sweet Dream un­der a Chi­nese Para­sol” by Tang Yin (1470–1524) adopts ink line-draw­ing tech­niques. In the paint­ing, a man sits in a chair un­der a Chi­nese para­sol with his eyes closed, as if lost in a dream. His fa­cial ex­pres­sion is vivid

and nat­u­ral. The paint­ing was cre­ated by Tang when he re­turned to Suzhou (a city in present-day Jiangsu Province) after fail­ing an im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tion case. It has been con­sid­ered a por­trait of the painter him­self as he saw through the world, gave up his pur­suit of fame, and de­cided to lead a reclu­sive life.

The “Paint­ing of Three Hob­bies of Qiao Yuanzhi” by Yu Zhid­ing (1647–1716) housed at Nan­jing Mu­seum por­trays Qiao Yuanzhi ly­ing on the couch, with piles of books on the desk be­hind him. Three fe­male mu­si­cians on the left side play mu­si­cal in­stru­ments while two maid­ser­vants on the right side bring out a jar of liquor. Read­ing books, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and drink­ing liquor were Qiao’s three hob­bies, in­di­cat­ing bold char­ac­ter­is­tics. All the char­ac­ters in the paint­ing are drawn with del­i­cate strokes and lu­cid colours, il­lus­trat­ing a quaint charm.

Aside from th­ese works, visi­tors can also find many other out­stand­ing fig­ure paint­ings cre­ated dur­ing the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties, such as the “Paint­ing of Spring in Wul­ing” by Wu Wei (1459–1508) and the “Paint­ing of Lis­ten­ing to Qin (a seven-stringed plucked in­stru­ment in some ways sim­i­lar to the zither)” by Chen Hong­shou (1598–1652).

Women Pain­ters and Paint­ings of Beauties

Although there have been many prom­i­nent women pain­ters in the his­tory of Chi­nese paint­ing, they didn’t emerge as a group un­til the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties. Women pain­ters have be­come a unique phe­nom­e­non in the cir­cle of tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ing since then, hav­ing mo­ti­vated and in­spired many mod­ern women pain­ters.

The “Beauty” sec­tion fo­cuses on the paint­ings by women pain­ters of the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties and those with women as the main theme. The “Paint­ing of a Lady Toot­ing the Xiao ( a ver­ti­cal bam­boo flute)” by Xue Susu (c.1564–1650) is one of the mas­ter­pieces.

Xue Susu was en­dowed with both beauty and ta­lent and ex­celled at draw­ing. Her works are now housed by the Palace Mu­seum, Nan­jing Mu­seum, Jilin Pro­vin­cial Mu­seum, Tian­jin Mu­seum and Shang­hai Mu­seum. Many of her paint­ings, such as “Paint­ing of Or­chid, Bam­boo, Pine and Plum Blos­som” and “Paint­ing of Or­chid and Stone,” are mas­ter­pieces, while “Paint­ing of a Lady Toot­ing the Xiao” is the only fig­ure paint­ing of Xue. The paint­ing por­trays a slim lady stand­ing in a gar­den, play­ing the xiao, ac­com­pa­nied by nar­cis­sus in front with stones and bam­boo in back. They form an el­e­gant and leisurely at­mos­phere, and serve as lis­ten­ers in the mean­time.

Dur­ing the last years of the Ming Dy­nasty, Liu Rushi, Gu Hengbo, Ma Xianglan, Chen Yuanyuan, Kou Mei, Bian Yu­jing, Li Xiangjun and Dong Xiaowan were known as “Eight Beauties of Jin­ling (present-day Nan­jing in Jiangsu Province). At that time, literati swarmed to them out of ad­mi­ra­tion, and cre­ated many paint­ings for them. The fig­ure paint­ings on dis­play at the ex­hi­bi­tion in­clude “Paint­ing of Kou Mei” by Fan Qi (1616–1694), “Paint­ing of Liu Rushi” by Gu Dachang, “Paint­ing of Dong Xiaowan” by Zhou Xu and “Paint­ing of Gu Hengbo” by Zhang Fudong, all from Nan­jing Mu­seum. Among them, the largest one is the “Paint­ing of Kou Mei.”

The “Paint­ing of Kou Mei” was cocre­ated by Fan Qi and Wu Hong (1615– 1680) in 1651, in a re­gional style. In the paint­ing, Kou Mei, with make-up, sits up, look­ing peace­ful. The back­ground en­vi­ron­ment con­sists of an­cient trees and still wa­ter. Thriv­ing vi­tal­ity can be sensed in quiet­ness, well echo­ing the char­ac­ter’s sit­u­a­tion, iden­tity and ap­pear­ance. A short bi­og­ra­phy of Kou Mei with some brief com­ments and po­ems can be found on the edges of the paint­ing, doc­u­ment­ing the views of literati on Kou Mei dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty.

Charms of the Literati

With the rise of literati paint­ings and com­merce dur­ing the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties, tra­di­tional Chi­nese fig­ure paint­ing en­tered a cru­cial pe­riod, show­ing di­ver­si­fied de­vel­op­ment trends, and ush­er­ing in many prom­i­nent pain­ters, in­clud­ing Wen Zheng­ming (1470–1559), Tang Yin and Chen Hong­shou. In ad­di­tion, Zeng Jing (1568–1650) es­tab­lished the Bochen School fea­tur­ing re­al­ism paint­ing. Yu Zhid­ing (1647–1716) and Leng Mei (c. 1669–1745) cre­ated their own styles of fig­ure paint­ing. Eight Ec­cen­tric Artists in Yangzhou were good at ink free­hand fig­ure paint­ing. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Hais­hang School—ren Xiong, Ren Xun and Ren Yi—pro­moted the sec­u­lar­i­sa­tion and mar­ket­ing of paint­ing.

Hua Yan (1682–1756) was also a prom­i­nent painter dur­ing the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties. Although he lived an im­pov­er­ished life, he em­braced na­ture with his paint­brush, trav­el­ling a lot to broaden his hori­zons. He once pur­sued an of­fi­cial ca­reer, but fi­nally gave up after wit­ness­ing in­jus­tices of the of­fi­cial­dom. He then made a liv­ing by sell­ing paint­ings in Hangzhou and Yangzhou. By that time, he made ac­quain­tances with Eight Ec­cen­tric Artists in Yangzhou and other pain­ters. The “Self Por­trait” housed at the Palace Mu­seum was an im­promptu work cre­ated by Hua Yan when he was 46, de­pict­ing a cheer­ful Hua ap­pre­ci­at­ing nat­u­ral scenery in sum­mer. The fig­ure in his paint­ing is both re­al­is­tic and free­hand, with a slightly ex­ag­ger­ated pos­ture, just like Hua’s other fig­ure paint­ings. The paint­ing fea­tures con­cise, ca­sual and thin­ning lines, to cre­ate a charm ex­clu­sive to literati while ap­peal­ing to the masses.

Th­ese out­stand­ing pain­ters es­ca­lated the fame of fig­ure paint­ing dur­ing the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties. The ex­hi­bi­tion brings to­gether fig­ure paint­ings of var­i­ous schools from the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties, sort­ing out the fig­ures in paint­ings. Visi­tors can learn more about the charms of the literati dur­ing that pe­riod while en­gag­ing in artis­tic feats.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.