Masterpieces of Chinese Painting

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Painting has always been regarded by the Chinese as a supreme art, its merits equal to those of poetry and philosophy. The tradition can be traced over 2,500 years, but from very early on many Chinese paintings were made to be viewed on a temporary basis, displayed for just a few hours, or perhaps several weeks. The masterpieces of the form have been seen very rarely, and then only by few, particularly in the West.

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  • Painting has always been regarded by the Chinese as a supreme art, its merits equal to that of poetry and philosophy. Primarily an art on silk and paper, mounted on rollers and forming vertical or horizontal scrolls, Chinese paintings are only suitable for display for a short period of time. In the past, the most precious scrolls were preserved in Imperial and private collections, as well as in inaccessible temples in China and Japan. Many of the scrolls that have survived are now acquired by modern museums and looked after by curators and conservators.

    The publication of Masterpieces of Chinese Painting coincides with the opening of the UKs first exhibition since 1935 to bring together some of the finest Chinese paintings created during the successive periods of over 1000 years; all the paintings come from the richest and most representative collections in the world. The book provides an up-to-date, stimulating and authoritative guide to these great works for those who can observe them in person in the exhibition and for those who must view them through the printed page including the best works by the greatest masters such as Liang Kai, as well as those by lesser known artists. All the paintings are reproduced in full, together with enlarged details.

    Masterpieces of Chinese Painting, authored by a team of a new generation of international scholars, begins with an extensive introduction explaining the background against which the Chinese painters worked. In the introductory essays, the authors discuss the social context in which paintings were created and displayed in the tomb, temple, palace or scholars studio. They also consider the role of the patron, and explore the reasons why new subject matters, genres, formats and techniques were introduced and why earlier traditions survived. They then describe the painters materials and techniques, drawing on recent research to explain the preparation of silk and paper, the use of colours and ink, and special techniques such as back-painting. The introductory essays also give an account of the history of collecting Chinese paintings in China and abroad, to help explain why some of the paintings in the book are considered masterpieces today.

    The book concludes with a collection of detailed commentaries on 8090 of the finest paintings in the exhibition, covering a great variety beginning in the

    Layers of Painting1200 years of Chinese Masterpieces

    hongxing zhang

    41

    Cat. 00, detail

  • Painting has always been regarded by the Chinese as a supreme art, its merits equal to that of poetry and philosophy. Primarily an art on silk and paper, mounted on rollers and forming vertical or horizontal scrolls, Chinese paintings are only suitable for display for a short period of time. In the past, the most precious scrolls were preserved in Imperial and private collections, as well as in inaccessible temples in China and Japan. Many of the scrolls that have survived are now acquired by modern museums and looked after by curators and conservators.

    The publication of Masterpieces of Chinese Painting coincides with the opening of the UKs first exhibition since 1935 to bring together some of the finest Chinese paintings created during the successive periods of over 1000 years; all the paintings come from the richest and most representative collections in the world. The book provides an up-to-date, stimulating and authoritative guide to these great works for those who can observe them in person in the exhibition and for those who must view them through the printed page including the best works by the greatest masters such as Liang Kai, as well as those by lesser known artists. All the paintings are reproduced in full, together with enlarged details.

    Masterpieces of Chinese Painting, authored by a team of a new generation of international scholars, begins with an extensive introduction explaining the background against which the Chinese painters worked. In the introductory essays, the authors discuss the social context in which paintings were created and displayed in the tomb, temple, palace or scholars studio. They also consider the role of the patron, and explore the reasons why new subject matters, genres, formats and techniques were introduced and why earlier traditions survived. They then describe the painters materials and techniques, drawing on recent research to explain the preparation of silk and paper, the use of colours and ink, and special techniques such as back-painting. The introductory essays also give an account of the history of collecting Chinese paintings in China and abroad, to help explain why some of the paintings in the book are considered masterpieces today.

    The book concludes with a collection of detailed commentaries on 8090 of the finest paintings in the exhibition, covering a great variety beginning in the

    Layers of Painting1200 years of Chinese Masterpieces

    hongxing zhang

    41

    Cat. 00, detail

  • early eighth century devotional hangings from the Dunhuang caves on the edge of the Gobi desert, to the self-portraits by the artists living in Shanghai in the nineteenth century during an age of Western influence. Together these commentaries present a remarkable chronicle, enabling readers to trace the development of Chinese painting from the eighth to the nineteenth century, and to develop an eye for style, technique, imagery and genre, through the appreciation of the talents of individual artists.

    Painting has always been regarded by the Chinese as a supreme art, its merits equal to that of poetry and philosophy. Primarily an art on silk and paper, mounted on rollers and forming vertical or horizontal scrolls, Chinese paintings are only suitable for display for a short period of time. In the past, the most precious scrolls were preserved in Imperial and private collections, as well as in inaccessible temples in China and Japan. Many of the scrolls that have survived are now acquired by modern museums and looked after by curators and conservators.

    The publication of Masterpieces of Chinese Painting coincides with the opening of the UKs first exhibition since 1935 to bring together some of the finest Chinese paintings created during the successive periods of over 1000 years; all the paintings come from the richest and most representative collections in the world. The book provides an up-to-date, stimulating and authoritative guide to these great works for those who can observe them in person in the exhibition and for those who must view them through the printed page including the best works by the greatest masters such as Liang Kai, as well as those by lesser known artists. All the paintings are reproduced in full, together with enlarged details.

    The publication of Masterpieces of Chinese Painting coincides with the opening of the UKs first exhibition since 1935 to bring together some of the finest Chinese paintings created during the successive periods of over 1000 years; all the paintings come from the richest and most representative collections in the world. The book provides an up-to-date, stimulating and authoritative guide to these great works for those who can observe them in person in the exhibition and for those who must view them through the printed page including the best works by the greatest masters such as Liang Kai, as well as those by lesser known artists. All the paintings are reproduced in full, together with enlarged details.

    Masterpieces of Chinese Painting, authored by a team of a new generation of international scholars, begins with an extensive introduction explaining the background against which the Chinese painters worked. In the introductory essays, the authors discuss the social context in which paintings were created and displayed in the tomb, temple, palace or scholars studio. They also consider the role of the patron, and explore the reasons why new subject matters, genres, formats and techniques were introduced and why earlier traditions survived. They then describe the painters materials and techniques, drawing on recent

    research to explain the preparation of silk and paper, the use of colours and ink, and special techniques such as back-painting. The introductory essays also give an account of the history of collecting Chinese paintings in China and abroad, to help explain why some of the paintings in the book are considered masterpieces today.

    The book concludes with a collection of detailed commentaries on 8090 of the finest paintings in the exhibition, covering a great variety beginning in the early eighth century devotional hangings from the Dunhuang caves on the edge of the Gobi desert, to the self-portraits by the artists living in Shanghai in the nineteenth century during an age of Western influence. Together these commentaries present a remarkable chronicle, enabling readers to trace the development of Chinese painting from the eighth to the nineteenth century, and to develop an eye for style, technique, imagery and genre, through the appreciation of the talents of individual artists.

    Painting has always been regarded by the Chinese as a supreme art, its merits equal to that of poetry and philosophy. Primarily an art on silk and paper,

    4342 l a y e r s o f p a i n t i n g

    fig. 00ArtistTitle of work, datemedium, dimensionslocation

  • early eighth century devotional hangings from the Dunhuang caves on the edge of the Gobi desert, to the self-portraits by the artists living in Shanghai in the nineteenth century during an age of Western influence. Together these commentaries present a remarkable chronicle, enabling readers to trace the development of Chinese painting from the eighth to the nineteenth century, and to develop an eye for style, technique, imagery and genre, through the appreciation o