CLP 93

Lecture for China House symposium "Local Colors," Dec. 7, 1996: Regionalism in Ming-Ch'inq Ptg.

One of many advantages of being an elder scholar in field is that you can talk abt events of distant past first-hand, secure in knowledge that no one in audience is likely to have been there so as to challenge your version of them. I want to use this advantage to begin with a reminiscence. First exhib. of local school in Ch ptg (or mvt or whatever--l'll deal with terminology later, suspend your objections please--meanwhile I'll use "schools" for convenience, w. full awareness that isn't neat fit--just as we use, for convenience, word "academy" for diversity of groupings of artists at imperial court-we can all back off later and fuss at each other abt usages of words--first exhib. of local school, so far as I know, was held right here at China House, in 1955.Nanking School exhibit. organized by Aschwin Lippe, then curator at the Met (under Alan Priest).  I was there, sitting at the other end of Alan Priest's office, as a fellowship student at the time of its conception and preparation (1953-4), talked a lot abt it with Aschwin. So it's fitting that present exhib., organized by Hongnam Kim and Page Shaver, should be held here. Aschwin's exhib. wasn't accompanied by kind of substantial, scholarly catalog that is now produced for each exhib.; but he pub. separately a pair of articles in Oriental Art mag., 1956 and 1958, on "Kung Hsien and the Nanking School" that were for the time ground-breaking. I want to dedicate this lecture to him: that is, to Ernst Aschwin, Prinz zur Lippe-Biesterfeld (as he signed his first published study)--someone who transcended the shaping conditions of noble birth (he was the brother of Prince Bernhard of Holland, and himself prince of a defunct, Peter Sellers principality) to make serious, pioneering contributions to the study of Chinese and Indian art. And to be a very likeable and unpretentious person, fondly remembered.

At that early time, there was a lot of skepticism abt very concept of local schools in Ch ptg., as there was abt. other conditioning factors that some of us, at least, are now inclined to recognize as a matter of course. The doubters set up usual straw horses, arguing as though those of us who used the term meant that all the ptgs should be expected to look alike, or that the school had firmly definable boundaries, or that artists included in it would be confined to using

the established local styles; they pointed out that none of these were true. Of course they weren't; but nobody was arguing that they were-this was a standard willful misunderstanding of what the Chinese meant, and what some of us outside China meant, in making regional groupings. (I will add that from early on I realized also that people who wouldn't recognize validity of these groupings and their stylistic coordinates mostly also couldn't--they typically didn't have enough visual command of enough Ming-Ch'ing ptgs to make the distinctions. I recall showing a landscape handscroll I'd bought with a fake Wen Po-jen insc. to a respected colleague, a Ch. ptg specialist who was very strong in texts and theory etc., and saying "Of course it's really a fine work by an early Ch'ing master of the Anhui school," and being a bit shocked when he looked blank and obviously had no idea what I was talking about.) (Later I showed it to Chang Ta-Chien, who said, “Oh, that’s by Sun I”. Example of unfortunate divorcing of academic scholarship from connoisseurship.

Because of this old skepticism, and what I suspect will be some newer varieties, I want to begin by setting out as clearly as possible what I mean in speaking of regional factors in Ming-Ch'ing ptg. In dealing with artistic creation and outside circumstance, I operate on assumptions much like those argued by Michael Baxandall in his book Patterns of Intention: that the act of making a work of art, and the conscious or unconscious decisions taken by the maker, are surrounded by a cloud or cluster of "circumstantial items," conditions, potential factors that together affect (without ever completely determining) the outcome of the act, which is the object itself; but that we go wrong if we try to trace a clear, causal relationship between any feature of the object and any particular outside factor or circumstance. We can often make correlations between features of the object and such "circumstantial items" and try to infer-in one type of what Baxandall calls "inferential criticism "--why they appear to go together--as I did with two types of painters in the middle Ming period, definable by common features in their biographies as lived and as written, which correlate surprisingly neatly with definable features of subject and style in their paintings.  Identifying these correlations obliges us to go on to try and find a way to understand them, in some part account for them, as I tried also to do.

As for regional "schools" in Ch. ptg., I have proposed, over the years, two different hypothetical test projects that might potentially establish their validity and confound the doubters. The older one, which I was using at the time of Aschwin Lippe's exhibition, was this: we could gather a group of good Chinese connoisseurs of ptg and take them one by one through an exhibition of 100 early Ch'ing landscape ptgs (it's landscape we're mainly concerned with), randomly chosen, unlabeled and with artists' names hidden, asking if they could guess where the artist had learned and practiced his art, from the styles and subjects of the paintings. My supposition was that they would be right enough of the time to make the point beyond doubt. I still believe that they would.

My more recent hypothetical model, which likewise will probably never be carried out, involves the computer, and is much broader in scope. This time we gather, say, a thousand-or maybe ten thousand?-Chinese paintings from a given period-let's say, the 16th to18th cent.? it could be longer or shorter-in originals or good reproductions. Then we feed into a computer our more-or-less objective observations on these, their internal characteristics-are they on paper or silk? Color or no? Heavy or light? A narrative theme? What theme? trees or no trees? tallest trees occupying what proportion of whole height? Are there figures? the largest in what proportion to height of whole? diagonally-oriented composition, or not? dry or wet brushwork? and so forth, insofar as possible objectively observable characteristics, maybe a hundred of them--  Or more. (We never can eliminate subjective judgements altogether, but can come close enough to validate method.) Then, we feed into database for each ptg all the things we know abt its external circumstances: when was it done? Where? was artist, so far as we can determine, educated? classical or functional education? dependent on ptg for livelihood? at what period of his life was the work done, and under what circumstances? for what kind of patron, audience, or clientele?--and so forth, into ever more subtle, but still ascertainable, outside factors. There's lots of room for errors and misinformation, of course, but these wouldn't invalidate our data, or database, as a whole.

Then comes grand moment when we ask computer: what correlates with what? My supposition-no, my profound conviction- would be that if we do this completely and skillfully enough, certain features of the ptgs, in composition and theme and brushwork etc., would turn out to correlate with certain circumstances outside, clearly and sometimes irrefutably. Some would correlate with date, and these would lead to a formulation of period style, and chronological development, if we choose to pursue that idea (which is unfashionable, but no more truly discredited than any other currently unfashionable idea.) Others would correlate with the social class of the artist, and the economic basis on which he or she worked, and with gender; still others with the nature of the patronage, the clientele for whom the work was done (insofar as we can ascertain this.) Others, obviously, with the function of the work: occasion on which it was presented and hung, how it was meant to be used.  And others, of course, with artistic personality, the distinctive stamp of the artist's individuality, which can never be dissolved away, however much we may focus our attention on other factors; and at what period in artist's life it was done, and under what peculiar circumstances.  And, for our present purpose, where he or she had been trained, and was living and working.  I haven't the slightest doubt that all these, and others, would prove to have observable correlatives in features of style and subject in the paintings-not, of course, neat or total correlations, but significantly more than chance would allow-and that these would, once more, validate the project of finding and interpreting these correlatives of style and subject for Ming-Ch'ing (or any other) ptgs: social, economic, regional, period, personal, and other. I don't have any illusions that these correlations and their implications would be accepted by everybody, so as to silence the opposition forever since correlations aren’t proof - however neat - there are still people out there who think cigarette smoking doesn't cause lung cancer-but they would make it a lot more difficult to pursue. And the correlations would, again, oblige us (or those of us who take these matters seriously) to look for ways of understanding them.

So much for that-a statement of belief underlying what will follow. I'll begin by noting how some Chinese writers recognized regional factors, especially in landscape ptg, and how they regarded them.

S.S. Early mentions of regional schools in landscape ptg include Kuo Hsi's,[1] which sees it in a negative light: "Great masters and understanding scholars [he writes] do not restrict themselves to one school, but must select from many to achieve their own style eventually.  At present, artists from Ch'i and Lu [modern Shantung province] work exclusively in Li Ch'eng's style, and artists of Kuan and Shan [modern Shensi province] work exclusively in Fan K'uan's style. ... Exclusive specialization has always been a fault. . . "

S.S. Mi Fu, writing around the same time, observed as a positive phenomenon that there seemed to be a style of landscape associated with the Chiang-nan or Yangtze delta region, which could be seen as early as a screen in a painting by Ku K'ai-chih, and later in the works of Tung Yuan and Chū-jan.[i][2]

S. He would appear to have consciously placed himself as a landscapist in this lineage (no reliable works, but can use this work by his son Mi Yu-jen to rep family style.) But also matter of aesthetic choice – he gives his reasons as a critic for admiring works of Tung and Chū—not simply because he lived and traveled in this region.

These regional groupings for Sung and earlier LS ptg., and the implied attachments of style to locale, are noted and accepted by other Sung writers as well.

S.S. In the notes on LS by the late Yuan (mid-14c) master Huang Kung-wang, by contrast, style seems to have been detached somewhat from locale; he writes: "Painters of recent times have generally followed the styles of Tung Yuan and Li Ch'eng," and he
relates features of Tung Yuan's style to the local scenery around Nanking. But he doesn't say that these once-regional styles were being practiced especially by artists from those places.3 By now, it was more a matter of choice: the more intellectual or art-historical
approach of the literati artist, the new possibility of traveling between south and north (e.g. Chao Meng-fu, as seen here in ...), made possible this detachment, this degree of free choice of style. This is a useful initial distinction--between working in a local or regional one was trained in that place & works there, and is thus committed to a local tradition, to choosing it more freely for other reasons. The latter becomes more common as time goes on.

S.S. I will skip over the issues and arguments having to do with Wu-school or Suchou ptg and Che-school ptg, loosely associated with the Chekiang region, in the Ming; last thing I want is to go through all that again-a matter discussed and rehashed at great length by all of us over the many years. To what extent the differences between the kinds of ptg produced within these large groupings, "schools" or movements or whatever we choose to call them, reflect regional factors, or economic, or ideological, or the nature of patronage, is a matter too complex to permit simple formulations. I will only make once more the unarguable observation that they couldn't be switched-the Wu school couldn't have grown and flourished in Hangchou, with its local background of Sung and later painting in the Sung academy mode, and the Che school couldn't have grown and flourished in Suchou, with its background in the literati ptg mvt that had been more or less centered in that region in the late Yuan. There were traceable continuities in both cases-Dick Barnhart has done this on stylistic grounds for the Che school⁴ and Shan Guoqiang has mapped the intricate web of family connections between the late Yüan masters of the Suchou region and the Wu-school artists who carry on their tradition in the Ming.⁵

By the late Ming, the crucial regional distinction, as recognized and polarized by critics of the time, was the one I termed, in my late Ming book, "The Soochow-Sungchiang Confrontation.⁶" (To symbolize it, ptgs by Li Shih-ta, Tung Ch'i-ch'ang.) Again, idea of regionalism is viewed rather negatively.  A critic of time named Fan Yun-lin, after writing a diatribe agst Suchou ptrs of his age, and stressing the necessity of going back to the distant past for models, adds: "This idea is understood only by the artists of Yun-chien (Sungchiang). . . The Soochow people look at them and dismiss them, saying, 'This is the Sung-chiang school.' But really! How could Sung-chiang be a 'school"? It is only the Soochow painters who make up a 'school.'" Chinese word rendered here as "school" is p'ai: branch, sect, offshoot-suggests narrowness, confinement, where Sungchiang artists wanted to be regarded as heirs to a great tradition quite independent of locale.  Writers of time are quite vehement abt this confrontation; some specialists today, by contrast, espec. Chinese scholars of a conservative bent, presumably aiming at a grand harmonization that they want to see as characteristic of Ch. culture, are skeptical of this too-hard to see why, in face of texts.  One of them wrote article claiming that Tung C-c was never really critical of his late Ming contemporaries in Soochow. This is another position that seems to me, in view of writings of time, quite untenable.

On the basis of all this, we can make another general observation, which doesn't come as much of a surprise. The use or adoption of regional styles is given more positive value by Chinese writers when adopting them can be seen as a matter of the artist's free choice, under aesthetic and theoretical motivations, and as negative when the artists are seen as more or less confined to these styles by accident of birth or choice of residence.

S.S. This observation is borne out in three statements by major early Ch'ing painters, statements with which I opened the very controversial sixth and last chapter of my book The Compelling Image, on 17c Ch. ptg. Wang Hui, in an inscription of 1669, ascribes the decline of ptg in his time to the proliferation of local schools and the bickering between them. "To put it briefly," he concludes, "partisans of Yun-chien [Sungchiang] laugh at the Che school and followers of Lou-tung [the Orthodox lineage to which he was partially committed] scold the Wu school. In such confusion, the students, with brushes in hand, are at such a complete loss that it is virtually impossible for them to penetrate the secrets of the art." Wang Yuan-ch'i similarly lists the major schools of Ming ptg and adds: "The bad mannerisms of the Yangchow and Nanking ptrs today are no different from those of the Che school, and anyone who intends to learn the proper use of brush and ink should be on his guard agst them." But these scoldings and dismissals also imply a degree of choice: adherents of these wrong directions could give them up if they chose to, and take the right direction. Both Wangs would like, of course, to see other artists adopt the Orthodox landscape style, as they themselves had done, and within which were the acknowledged leaders. Although the growth of that Orthodox loosely a regional phenomenon itself, they preferred to think of it as possessing a kind of universal validity, independent of local schools. (As Tung C-c has professed to do.)

S.S. However, the artist who supremely accomplished the detachment of styles from geographical coordinates, for his own purposes, was of course Shih-t'ao (seen here in his 1674 self-portrait.) The stages of his absorbing local styles and then breaking free from their dictates, as he moved about, because of the special circumstances of his life, from one center of ptg to another, is traced in this sixth chapter of my book-which has, as I say, been quite controversial-although, when the styles of his paintings in successive periods are juxtaposed with his geographical movements, the match seems, again, more or less inescapable. (Show on map.)

S.S. (Screen panel, early; Nanking-style ptg.) I proposed this pattern as one way to understand Shih-tao's stylistic diversity in a seminar on him given in 1970? Richard Vinograd, then a grad student, worked his seminar paper into an article published in 1977, "Reminiscences of Ch'in-Huai: Tao-chi and the Nanking School," in which he showed how Shih-t'ao uses styles associated with Nanking and Anhui in two albums painted in the same year, 1695, for friends he had known in those places, calling on old memories both in the styles and in his inscriptions.

S.S. (Leaf from 1677 album; end of 1699 Huang-shan handscroll.) The relevance of this to my argument today is, I hope, obvious. In Shih-t'ao's earlier and later works we can observe a shift from adopting a local style provisionally and partially because he was living at that time in that place, and has temporarily joined, so to speak, the local "school," to choosing consciously to use it, independently of where he happened to be at the time, for reasons that usually have to do more with the background and movements and preferences of the recipient than with the artist's whereabouts.  By 1699 (year he ptd Sumitomo Huangshan scroll, for friend who had just returned from climbing the mountain) he could himself write dismissively about local styles; "Painters today, if they are from the Soochow region, are all afflicted with the Soochow mannerisms; if from Chekiang, they are afflicted with the Chekiang mannerisms; and the same is true of those from Kiangsi and Hunan, Kuangtung and Kuangsi, Nanking and Southern Anhui and Yangchow-all of these [local schools], after they have gone on for a while, slip into empty mannerisms.”  And he is able to make his extraordinary resolve, stated or implied in a number of inscriptions and in his Hua yū lu, to leave all established stylistic schools and lineages behind, and paint as if he were inventing the art of painting. I would argue, without making any deterministic suggestion that his special life circumstances brought about this late-life development, that they enabled it-it's highly unlikely, in effect impossible, that any similar move could have been made by an artist who remained strongly attached to a single place and its stylistic tradition, as most of Shih-t’ao’s contemporaries did.

S.S.  Wang Hui is another who moved around a lot, and his moves from his hometown, Ch'ang-shu (album leaf from 1640s at right), to T'ai-ts'ang where he became house-guest and protege of Wang Shih-min (1666 ptg at left), (Highly polished, Knowing.)

S.S.  and later to Nanking where he joined the circle of Chou Liang-kung (great 1667 handscroll which he presented to Chou as an introduction, insc. by Wang Shih-min-but actually ptd in Suchou), and still later to Beijing (1691, to oversee production of K'ang-hsi's Southern Tour scrolls), can be seen loosely reflected, as with Shih t'ao, in the styles he adopts during his long career in some at least of his works.  In both cases, the adoptions were not simply the outcome of the artist's being exposed ) to new stylistic directions or tendencies and choosing to give them a try; both artists must also have been responding in part, sensitively, to the expectations and preferences of patrons and clients in these places.  Wang Hui must have understood that Chou Liang-kung, for instance, would be more impressed by his ability to break out of the Orthodox School structures than by his ability to work within them. Wang Shih-min never did understand that, and he tries in his colophon, quite unconvincingly, to turn this into an Orthodox-school display of fang imitation, writing that it "completely follows Li Ch'eng and Chu-jan, while adding ... Yen Wen-kuei's scenery." This totally misunderstands what Wang Hui was up to in this magnificent work. I would attach some significance to the fact that he was in Suchou when he did it – but that would take too long to convince you.

S.S. Many artists, of course, moved from one place to another; but looking at cases of this doesn't weaken our argument about local schools and styles-on the contrary, it tends to confirm it, since we can observe the artists adopting into their works some of the distinguishing characteristics of painting done in their new locales.  Sung Hsü comes to Sung-chiang from Chia-hsing in Chekiang around1573 and in his late years does some works in the local styles⁷; Lan Ying comes there about thirty years later from his birthplace in Hangchou and is also somewhat drawn into the local scene, imitating models and adopting features of style associated with the Sung-chiang group. (Ptg of 1605 by Sung, 1629 by Lan.)

S.S. Judy Andrews, in an unpublished paper for a CAA panel in 1986, a paper that grew out of her work in our 1980 seminar on Anhui-school painting which produced the exhibition "Shadows of Mt. Huang," discusses several artists who moved from Anhui to Yangchou in the Iater 17c, concentrating on two of them, Ch'eng Sui and Cha Shih-piao. Her argument is complex and interesting, and I won't try to summarize it, but will only note, as she does, that Cha S-p, whose early work (from the 1650s-60s) is typically in the fastidious, dry-brush manner inherited from Ni Tsan and used on the highest level by Hung-jen, changes his style and his manner of working somewhat after moving to Yangchou; he paints much more prolifically, and much of his output consists of relatively simple compositions done in a more cursive manner. (These are an early fan ptg, 1655, and a late work.)

S.S. Details. Judy found what she calls a "ditty" in which Cha is paired with a maker of inlaid plates: "For dishes in every place it's Chiang Ch'iu-shui; for scrolls in every home it's Cha Erh-chan," i.e. Cha Shih-piao.⁸ And she attributes this change, as I would do, in large part to new conditions in Yangchou having to do with the artist's clientele and the economic basis on which he worked.

S.S. I have extended this argument to others such as Kung Hsien and Shih-t'ao (this is a late, quickly produced Kung Hsien--in my own collection), both of whom spent much of their late years in the city. Changes in their ptg after the move had less to do with any local style in Yanjehoi  than with economics and the clientele, which , evidently (according to Ginger Hsu's research and arguments) included many people of relatively modest means who nonetheless wanted to buy paintings.

S.S. (Two Shih-t’ao album leaves; one was once mine.)  While artists of course continued to do some one-of-a-kind, “bespoke” paintings for special patrons and occasions, they also turned out a lot of quickly-produced, more or less repetitive pictures.  One might say, as a rather tentative observation, that there was no stylistically defined “school” of ptg in Yangchow in  late 17-early 18c (K’ang-his); ptrs come there, attracted by patronage and other factors, and tend to move into working in loosened, more quickly-rendered versions of the styles they brought with them. True of Cha S-p, Kung Hsien, Shih-tao; who else?

We have moved, propelled by my argument, from Chinese understandings of regionalism in Ch ptg to some observations of our own, myself and students chiefly. Let me continue in that direction, to see how a few others have dealt with the question. Victoria Contag, in her 1969 book Chinese Masters of the 17th Century⁹ offers this explanation: "The artists were dependent for their influences upon the models from the past contained in the collections accessible to them, since there were no museums in China at this period. . . Hence stylistic groups are distinguished according to the available models or to the place where the artist lived and where a group of friends mutually influenced each other." These are certainly important factors.

S.S. One of the earliest recognitions of a local school is by the artist Kung Hsien, and occurs in one of his "manuals" for teaching students to paint landscape, this one in the form of a handscroll.¹ᴼ He refers to the school as the T'ien-tu p'ai (T'ien-tu = Heavenly Citadel Peak, tallest peak in Huangshan) and credits "Meng-yang," or Ch'eng Chia-sui, w. founding it, and Li Yung-ch'ang w. bringing it to maturity, adding that Ch'eng works in the Ni Tsan manner and Li in the same manner as imitated by Shen Chou-establishing a lineage, in effect. (For his own

City of Nanjing, by contrast, Kung recognizes only a concentration of artists-Hongnam's catalog, p. 27---without attempting any stylistic characterization or identification of lineage.)  He lists eight others in his T'ien-tu p’ai, adding that they were all natives of "T'ien-tu" by which he must mean So.  Anhui, or the Hui-chou region.

S.S. (Ch'eng, Li) But this defining of the school raises problem when it is considered as a local or even regional grouping. Ch'eng Chia-sui, although he was born in Hsiuning in So. Anhui, lived most of his life in Chia-ting, located between Suchou and Shanghai; and his close friend Li Liu-fang, whom Kung Hsien might also have included as one of the early members of the school, was born there, of a family that had moved from She-hsien in So. Anhui two generations back. Of course, Chinese identify as their homeplace their father's family home; but even so, this suggests a certain dispersal of the school. As my seminar members and I quickly discovered when we launched our project in 1980 to make a study of Anhui school painting and an exhibition ("Shadows of Mt. Huang," 1981, shown also at Princeton and two other places), the geographical demarcation of the school was not a simple matter.

S.S. Artists active at the same time, from the end of Ming into the early Ch'ing, at places such as Nanjing  and Wu-chin (here, Yūn Hsiang and Tsou Chih-lin) were working in styles not easily to be separated from those of the Anhui masters proper;

S. in Nanjing, these included Kung Hsien himself in his early period-Yun Hsiang was one of the artists he most admired & learned from. (Yūn Hsiang was uncle of Yun Shou-p'ing; how Yūn S-p in some of his ptgs of flowers and insects etc, follows a local tradition or school in Wu-chin, or P'i-ling, would be another example for which I haven't time here.)

S.S. The other artist designated as a founder of the school by Kung Hsien, Li Yung-ch'ang (work by him at left), took part in a collective landscape handscroll in 1639 that is one of the earliest surviving productions of the school; other sections were done by Chiang-t'ao, who under his priest's name Hung-jen would become the central master of it. (His sec'n at right.) Another participant in this handscroll (no slide), a lesser painter named Liu Shang-yen, had studied painting directly with Tung Ch'i-ch'ang, and was reportedly one of his "ghost-painters," people who produced landscapes for him to sign and pass on to the numerous seekers after his works, whose demands were far greater than he himself could fulfill.

S. Still another, even earlier, was Cheng Yuan-hsun He was from a rich salt-merchant family of Hsiu-ning, and knew Tung Ch'i-ch'ang; an anthology he edited in 1627 contained the first publication of Tung's theory of the Southern and Northern schools, and Tung visited and named his garden in Yangchou, where Cheng spent his late years. This 1631 landscape by him, which Tung Ch'i-ch'ang inscribed, is clearly in the Sungchiang manner. Such connections persuaded us that the Anhui school begins as a kind of offshoot of the movement that Tung and others were carrying out in Sungchiang.

S.S. (Maps) The conclusion we reached, after a lot of reading and looking and talking with colleagues, including Fred Wakeman and several of his students, is that the geographical extensions of the style as we could observe them corresponded roughly the spread of the Hui-chou merchants' formation of a mercantile network in the Chiang-nan region, with members of their families moving into the cities and towns there; the region covered corresponded loosely with one of William Skinner's "economic macroregions," the lower Yangtze. The Hui-chou merchants controlled much of the commerce in salt, cotton, and rice; textiles woven in Sung-chiang were brought to Anhui for dyeing; ceramics from Ching-te-chen might be decorated in Anhui and sold in the Chiang-nan cities. And some of the wealth that was being amassed in this way went into collecting art, and supporting artists; and the dry, austere manner of landscape inaugurated in Sung-chiang and carried to further extremes in Anhui was widely accepted as signifying high taste and old gentry values. (This is only a bare outline of our argument, which we buttressed with quite a lot more evidence; but many of you know it already, and in any case it's all that time allows here.)

This, then, is another kind of regionalism, a region held together by economic ties instead of geographical boundaries. Again, there will be scepticism, since such an intertwined structure of relationships is ultimately unprovable; all one can do is set up a Baxandallian cluster of circumstance that appears to account better for the observed phenomena than any other so far proposed. There are, again, bound to be people who accept formulations of this kind without acknowledging them and then leapfrog, maintaining that they are pursuing far more complex and nuanced goals. That, too, is a staple of academia, and the only response one can make is to say: uh-huh, and wait to see whether the new formulation works as well, clarifies as much, as the old one.

Still another dispersed form of a regional school would be a local elite network that included painters and calligraphers as well as poets and litterateurs. But since the paper by Hsingyuan Tsao will deal with a notable example of that type, I will leave it to her to outline its character.

Blank slides. I cannot end without touching on, as I promised, the usage of the term "school." In general, I've favored using a convenient and more or less suitable English word to designate some practice or phenomenon in Chinese painting, and defining what I mean by it, without fussing too much over whether this usage corresponds neatly with the way the word is used in western art history or some other context. Arguments of this kind have troubled our field from early on--l remember "archaism" at a Princeton symposium, "topographical painting" at another, etc. If we worried over-much about whether our usage agrees with theirs, we would be left without a vocabulary for talking about the things we want to discuss-except for the awkward expedient of using the Chinese term in our writings. (Fu-ku.) One of the established meanings given for "school" in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (p. 1805) is "A set of persons, who agree in certain opinions, points of behavior or the like," and it quotes Sir Joshua Reynolds: "The Roman, the Florentine, and the Bolognese schools . These are the three great schools of the world in the epick stile" [of painting.]  And of course "school" has been commonly used in that sense by writers on art, such as Berenson.

This would seem enough justification for applying it similarly to local and other kinds of schools in Chinese painting. We should also make clear, however, whenever there is a chance of confusion or when our usage is challenged, what we do not mean to designate by the term. Certainly not an organized school or academy with a teaching function.  And most of the time, nothing like certain "schools" in modern European-American paintings, groupings made and named by the artists themselves with aesthetic underpinnings that sometimes are promulgated in a manifesto-such as the Futurists or the Surrealists-or Les Six in early 20th century French music, who can be seen all gathered together in a photo. One could argue that the Orthodox school belongs in important respects to that type.  But mostly, in China, the listings of local schools are after-the-fact groupings, made up by critics-sometimes during the lifetimes of the artists, as with the Impressionists in France or the Ashcan School in America sometimes long afterwards (as pointed out gleefully by this who want to discredit the concept). In any case, all of them are made, on some basis of understanding and have some degree of validity, and they can, if we take the trouble to find out what these are, be of value as provisional and partial classifications along with others. They, in turn, enable us to trace other kinds of relationships between works of art and outside circumstance – studies for instance of regional patronage – that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.  As with all such Chinese formulations that is, we should learn from them and respect them but not in the end be bound to them.

Having discharged this responsibility, I can now end. Thank you.


[1]Bush & Shih, p. 160.

²Find ref. in Mi Fu, Hua shih.

3Ref. to Hills; Bush & Shih, pp. 262-63

⁴Ptrs of Great Ming pp. 21-151, “A Lost Horizon” Ptg in Hangzhou After the Fall of the Song.”

⁵Or was it Shan Guolin? Find ref.

⁶Distant Mts., 27-30; Fan Yün-lin’s statement on 28-29.

⁷Distant Mts., pp. 66 and fig. 23-24

⁸Julia F. Andrews, “Landscape Painting and Patronage in Early Qing Yangzhou,” paper for CAA panel on “Chinese Landscape Ptg: Content, Context, and Style,” February 1986

⁹ trans. By Michael Bullock, Rutland and Tokyo, 1969, p. 3.

¹ᴼ Ref. Former Philip Hofer col, in Sackler Mus. At Harvard. Shadows pp. 34-35



1 6

[1]Bush & Shih, p. 160.

[2]Find ref. in Mi Fu, Hua shih.

3Ref. to Hills; Bush & Shih, pp. 262-63


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