"An Analysis of the History of
Court Painting in the Yuan Period and Exemplary Works"
Gugong bowuyuan yuankan 1998.3, 61-78
[reprinted from China Archaeology and Art Digest 3:2/3 (January
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During the 97 years of the Yuan dynasty the literati yibi style
of painting, characterised by the use of rapid rhythmic strokes rather
than the careful delineating used in the gongbi style, and realistic
painting apprached their peak. The author traces the lives of palace
artists active during the Yuan and their influence on the stylistic
changes that took place during the period. He divides such artists into
three groups: 1. palace artists, who included literati painters employed
in civilian positions at the palace and full-time professional painters;
2. painters from the region south of the Yangzi River, mainly southern
Suzhou and the Jiahu Plain region of Hangzhou; and 3. artists in temples
south of the Yangzi, for example the Buddhist monk Yintuoluo and the
Taoist priest Fang Congyi, although "ink play" played only
a secondary role. The first two groups, however, were mutually influential
and artists who worked in both the north and the south, for example,
Zhao Mengfu, Gao Kegong, Ren Renfa and Zhu Derun, helped facilitate
inks between the two regions.
According to the author more than 30 artists whose names are known today
worked at the Yuan court, and during the reigns of Emperors Shizu (1260-1294),
Renzong (1311-1320) and Wenzong (1328-1332) such court artists were
particularly numerous and their artistic output correspondingly vigorous.
The author subdivides the painting activities at the Yuan court into
||1. 1271-1286, when organisations within
the palace associated with painting were first established and literati
and professional painters, including Hao Jing (1223-1275), Liu Yuan
, Liu Yin (1249-1293), He Cheng (1223-1316), Shi Gang, Liu Guandao
and Zhang L]Kongsun (1233-1307), were brought from the Jin state.
During this stage jiehua, paintings which encompassed architectural
structures and boats, were popular. For example, He Cheng's painting
Gui zhuang tu (Returning to the village), in the collection
of the Jilin Provincial Museum, which demonstrates a combination
of late Jin and early Yuan styles. In addition to examining works
by literati painters, the author also looks at several figural paintings
by the professional painters Liu Yuan and Liu Guandao.
2. 1287-1320, when the literati painters Zhao Mengfu, He Cheng,
Pu Guang and Li Kan (1245-1320), and the gongbi painters
Liu Yuan and Ren Renfa were active at court. The author discusses
extant works by these and other painters of the period, and their
stylistic development and influence. The article includes a useful
chart showing the periods at which the artists mentioned and others
were active at court during the Yuan dynasty.
Ren Daobin, A Chronological Biography of Zhao Mengfu (Henan
renmin chubanshe, 1984).
Zhang Lu, "A Brief Discussion on Gao Kegong," Meishu yanjiu
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