CLP 21: 1995 "Hsieh-i in the Che School? Some Thoughts on the Huai-an Tomb Paintings." A companion piece to my "Continuations of Ch'an Painting" CLP 91.



I am pleased and honored to have this article included in the volume of papers honoring the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Shanghai Museum. I must acknowledge at the outset that I have not had the opportunity to see and study the paintings from the Huai-an tomb in the originals; my observations are based on reproductions of them, and are, moreover, of a preliminary nature--much work remains to be done on them. The discovery of these paintings has caused some excitement among both Chinese and foreign scholars; a few articles have appeared on them in Chinese publications,[1] and they have been discussed at scholarly gatherings abroad. They offer an occasion for us to raise once more some of the large, controversial issues in our field: relations of professional and academy painters to literati-official artists in the Ming; the Ming artists’ uses of Sung and Yüan painting styles; the significance of the simplified, rough-brush, so-called hsieh-i manner in the Ming period. Some consensus seems to be forming about what the Huai-an tomb paintings tell us on these matters, and how we should understand them; but before that understanding settles into broad acceptance, I want to challenge it and propose in outline an alternative reading of them.

The Huai-an Tomb Paintings

The tomb, discovered in April 1982 near Huai-an, southeast of the city of Ch'ing-chiang in northern Kiangsu province, is that of a certain Wang Chen (1424-1495) and his wife; he was buried there in 1496. Wang was a businessman who never attempted an official career. Along with other finds in the tomb were two handscrolls, found under Wang's arms and probably originally in his sleeves, containing 24 paintings and one piece of calligraphy. Eight paintings make up the first scroll (so designated by the excavators), and sixteen paintings and the piece of calligraphy the second. None of the works bears a dedication to Wang Chen; they are presumably pieces that he collected, by purchase or otherwise, and took with him into the tomb when he died. The eight paintings of the first scroll are a diverse group, and are assumed to have been gathered by Wang himself. The seventeen works in the second scroll are believed (e.g. by Hsü Pang-ta and Yin Chi-nan) to have been acquired by Wang as a group from an official named Cheng Chün. Twelve of the sixteen paintings and the piece of calligraphy in this scroll are dedicated to Cheng, under his tzu? Ching-jung and his hao Chu-chuang, "Bamboo Window."

The eight paintings in the first scroll are easily understandable as the modest treasures of a minor collector, one who lacked the resources or special connections that might have enabled him to acquire genuine works by major masters. Six of the eight paintings are on silk, while none in the second scroll are. Works on silk were typically of a more conservative, carefully-done kind, and in general had a higher market value than works on paper. But silk was used also for paintings meant to appear more important and valuable than they really were--derivative works, copies and imitations, outright forgeries, the stock-in-trade of lesser dealers, the material that still fills the storage cabinets of older museums and minor collectors. Wang Chen's acquisitions in the first scroll belong mostly to this latter category.

The best among them is an unsigned "Reading at a Window Beneath Pines" by some late Yüan or early Ming Li-Kuo school artist, a follower of T'ang Ti or Chu Te-jun (fig. 1, Huai-an pl. 1.) Even this is removed from the upper level of quality by mannered brushwork and routine renderings of such elements as tree foliage. The other paintings on silk are: a "Horses and Groom" with a false signature of Jen Jen-fa (ibid. pl. 24); a blue-and-green landscape of some quality titled "A Pond in Autumn" (ibid. pl. 25) by a Yüan or early Ming lesser master with a probably interpolated inscription of Wang Yüan (Hsü Pang-ta does not accept it); a conventional but good "Farewell at a Riverside Town," unsigned but by some close follower of Tai Chin, a painting of the type that would have been given as a parting present to an official leaving a provincial post (ibid. pl. 21); a "Wandering Among Streams and Mountains" by a little-known Ming master named Huang Hsi-ku, with small figures approaching a temple, set in a traditional Mi-style landscape (ibid. pl. 12); and an unsigned "White Tiger in a Wood" (ibid. pl. 22), a rather coarse Yüan-Ming work in which the brushline fluctuates strongly and arbitrarily in breadth, a mannerism found in many works of the period that follow Sung academy traditions. One of the two paintings on paper (ibid. pl. 19) represents the poet Li Po riding on a whale and is by an unknown artist named Hsü Liang; no one has commented on the significance of the subject, but the similarity to Li Tsai's "Ch'in Kao Riding on a Carp" in the Shanghai Museum may be noted (Che-p'ai, pl. 19.) The other is a "Day Lily" by Li Tsai (Huai-an pl. 6) which is dedicated to one Cheng I, perhaps a relative of Cheng Chün. It is painted on paper with a decorative design, a blossoming plum branch. Other examples of using patterned papers for small dedicatory pictures are known, e.g. a painting by Wu Wei in the Palace Museum, Beijing, a figures-in-landscape composition painted over a quite unrelated, imprinted landscape pattern that is disconcertingly visible at certain angles of light (Che-p'ai, pl. 67.)

The sixteen paintings in the second scroll are more cohesive as a group, and more interesting. Again, we should attempt to understand them collectively in relation to the person and circumstances that brought them together: a lesser official travels between the capital and places in Kiangsu province (and perhaps elsewhere), acquiring paintings as gifts, solicited or unsolicited, from artists or from third parties, or perhaps (less likely, in view of the nature of the paintings and their inscriptions) by commission or direct purchase. A few clues to how the paintings were acquired, and when, are found in the inscriptions. On the basis of these, together with evidence from other sources, Yin Chi-nan has worked out an elaborate chronology reconciling Cheng Chün's movements with the known periods of activity and whereabouts of the artists involved. Summarizing this chronology would require more space than our purpose here warrants, and can be left for a fuller study of the paintings. Cheng Chün came from Beijing to Chiang-yang (the modern Chiang-tu, about ten miles northeast of Yangchou in southern Kiangsu) in 1446 and returned on the ninth month of the same year. The information is from the inscription by an unrecorded artist named Kao Ting on his painting of chrysanthemums (Huai-an pl. 20), which was done for Cheng Chün as a farewell present on the eve of his return to Beijing. A painting by Ho Ch'eng (ibid. pl. 3) was also done during Cheng Chün's visit to Chiang-yang; the "Ink Plum" by Ch'en Lu (ibid. pl. 9), dedicated originally to Ho Ch'eng, was presumably acquired from Ho by Cheng Chün at this time; the painting of "Ink Bamboo" by Ch'en Lu (ibid. pl. 10), dedicated to Cheng Chün himself, was probably added to the collection after Cheng had returned to Beijing, where Ch'en Lu was mainly active. Most of the other paintings in the second scroll are believed to have been acquired during his time in Beijing, before and after the trip to Kiangsu.

The interest of the Cheng Chün group of paintings in the second scroll as a unique surviving example of a minor Ming official's collection surpasses, I believe, the individual or collective value of the paintings as works of art, and I want to consider them principally in that context, for what they can tell us about the production, acquisition, and appreciation of paintings in Ming dynasty official circles. This is not the context in which they have been discussed, in the few years since their discovery. A colleague who first told me about them excitedly, one of China's leading painting specialists, said that Chinese scholars were hailing them as new and surprising evidence for the practice of amateur-like hsieh-i painting, the spontaneous and expressive "sketching the idea" manner, among the Ming court artists and Che-school masters. The authors of the Huai-an volume follow this line of thinking, writing in their Preface: "[The paintings] demonstrate that early Ming academy landscapists not only imitated Southern Sung academy styles, but combined these with styles received from the Northern Sung and Yüan. . . The flower-and-bird pictures all emphasize the hsieh-i manner, and while based on academy models, really stem from the brush-and-ink of the Yüan masters. The plum and bamboo pictures depend on Wang Mien and Wang Fu; the painting of chrysanthemums is completely like Shen Chou's in style." Other writers emphasize that the styles of the Cheng Chün paintings are those associated more with the amateur painting tradition than with professional and academy painting. Specialists outside China who have spoken and written about the paintings have tended to agree with these Chinese understandings of them. I would certainly not argue that they are completely wrong, but believe they tend in a misleading direction, toward a reading of the paintings, individually and as a group, that is in the end unsatisfactory.

It is a reading that puts the Huai-an paintings (or at least those in the second, Cheng Chün scroll) into a context of all that hsieh-i and amateurism imply, in the ways these are commonly understood: spontaneity, individualism, personal expression, the artist as a free spirit. It situates them within a version of artist-client relationships that underlies a great deal of writing about Ming (and earlier and later) Chinese painting, a version that I believe to be somewhat misleading. No one of the many adherents of this version has stated it so baldly as I am about to do; but, so far as it can be inferred from their writings, the model seems to be something like this: The artists paint, more or less autonomously, whatever subjects and in whatever styles suit their moods and creative urges. If they do it in the hope of some financial or other gain, this consideration does not significantly affect their choices of subjects and styles, or the forms the pictures take, which respond rather to purely inner motivations. Someone then receives the painting through occupying the fortunate position of being a friend of the artist--an easy matter in the all-but-classless society that this version of Ming painting history supposes. If the recipient gives some gift in exchange, it is in a spirit of free give-and-take, imposing no constraints on the artist, whose creative freedom must not be diminished.

It is a lovely vision; it is urged on us by many literati writers and by those who follow them more or less uncritically today; it doubtless was realized sometimes among Ming painters and their contemporaries. But it would be, I think, methodologically unsound to accept it as the norm for the Ming or any other period. Why it is the wrong model for understanding the Huai-an paintings I will argue in the sections that follow.

The Subjects of the Paintings

An important aspect of the paintings that has mostly been neglected in writings about them is their subjects: leaving aside for a moment the question of who painted them and in what styles, we might ask, "What are they about?" And to answer "About misty hills and bamboo branches" is not adequate any more. Nor is the simple observation, true as it may be, that the subjects of paintings in the second scroll are mainly the favorites of the literati artists, the "four gentlemen" plant subjects etc. Recent studies of subjects and their meanings in Chinese painting should have taken us beyond such answers. In the case of the Cheng Chün pictures, we should be able to say not only what they are "about" individually but also why this set of subjects should be found in a group of pictures gathered by a fifteenth century official.

The key, I believe, is in the political associations of most of the subjects, which allowed them to carry auspicious and complimentary messages to the holder of an official post. Numbering the paintings in their order in the scroll, the subjects are: bamboo (#6, Hsia Ch'ang, #12, Ch'en Lu); bamboo, old tree, and rock (#5, Hsia Chih); blossoming plum (#11, Ch'en Lu); orchids (#7, Chiu-yang Tao-jen); chrysanthemums (#8, Kao Ting); two sparrows on a branch (#4, Ting Wen-hsien); Chung-k'uei with demons (#16, Yin Shan, fig. 2); hills in fog, in the Mi manner ( #3, Li Tsai, fig. 3; #13, Ho Ch'eng, fig. 5; #15, Hsieh Huan, fig. 4); sketchy river landscapes with men in boats or on the shore gazing at the scenery (#1, Li Cheng, #2, Tai Hao, #9, Fan Hui, #10, Ma Shih, fig. 9, #14, Li Cheng again.)

That bamboo, blossoming plum, and orchids emblemized certain virtues of the scholar-gentleman is too well established to need spelling out again here; they could also carry specific meanings in pictures intended for officials.[2] Chrysanthemums, through their association with T'ao Yüan-ming, stood for retirement, or a retiring nature, the disdain for worldly ambition that was attributed to good administrators even as they continued (reluctantly) in their posts. Chrysanthemums were painted by artists active in Ming court circles such as T'ao Ch'eng (active ca. 1480-1532); they are combined with cabbages in T'ao's handscroll in the Cleveland Museum of Art, a subject pairing that would be difficult to understand in any context other than the political. Cabbages reminded bureaucrats of the necessity for staying in touch with the feelings and needs of common people, as allusions in poems attached to the painting make clear.[3]

As for the other two non-landscape subjects represented in the paintings: only the sparrows-on-a-branch picture remains, for now, apolitical, and even that may yield some relevant meaning on further looking. The political implications of the Chung-k'uei theme (fig. 2), as distinct from the exorcistic role of the demon-queller in popular religion, have not been investigated systematically, but recent scholarship offers a few clues to the directions the investigation would take. Thomas Lawton, writing about Kung K'ai's famous scroll in the Freer Gallery representing Chung-k'uei and his sister on an outing, suggests that the artist "on one level . . . intended viewers who were loyal to the deposed Sung regime to draw a parallel between Chung K'uei's ability to expel demons and their own deeply felt concern for ridding China of foreign rule." Stephen Little discusses a painting by Wen Cheng-ming of "Chung-k'uei in a Wintry Forest" (Han-lin Chung-k'uei, with the han-lin a homonym for the imperial academy) as "a symbol of the artist, and on a broader level, of all scholars who have retired from or refused service in the bureaucracy." The fact that Chung-k'uei in the Huai-an painting is holding a brush and roll of paper, and is seen with his demon retainers traveling through a landscape, strengthens the likelihood that this interpretation is the one that applies here. Julia Andrews discusses a case in which an early Ch'ing writer, Chu I-tsun, responded to a viewing of a painting by Ts'ui Tzu-chung of the Taoist immortal Hsü Ching-yang by likening it to Kung K'ai's scroll of Chung-k’uei, and relating both to the appearance of demons in the city in broad daylight in the Ch'ung-chen era (1628-44). Chu writes that the emperor's troops were ineffectual in driving them out, whereas "if Ching-yang [or by implication Chung-k'uei] were in command . . .[he] would make every demon forget his labors."[4] Some application to a contemporary political issue is surely intended. These instances of possible political interpretations of Chung-k'uei paintings leave unresolved the question of the role they played in Ming court paintings of the subject, of which a number are known; but the assumption of a political significance seems warranted.

The eight landscapes in the Cheng Chün group, half the total, divide naturally into two sub-groups. One consists of sketchily-drawn river scenes in which scholar-gentlemen stand (#9, Fan Hui) or sit (#10, Ma Shih, fig. 9) on the river shore, accompanied by boy servants, gazing over the water, lost in revery. Or else they are seen in boats, crossing the river (#2, Tai Hao) or wearing the rain-gear of fishermen in what must be intended as a rainy landscape (#1, Li Cheng--these may, alternatively, be real fishermen.) In one of this group (#14, Li Cheng) a gentleman with servant in a waterside thatched shelter looks out over the river at a boat, from which another gentleman gazes back at him. Pictures of this kind probably carried no specific political message, but only the general one of refuge-in-nature, escaping from the pressures and defilements of official service to a contemplative life on the river or in the mountains. Bureaucrats were supposed to be longing constantly for such a life, and paintings of it reinforced this idealized version of their attitude toward officialdom.

About the hills-in-clouds or hills-before-rain pictures we can be more specific: the meaning they carried when presented to officials is clear.[5] An eleventh-century example can introduce it: "Ch'en Yung-chih of the Jen-tsung painting academy ... was commissioned by the high-ranking official Wen Yen-po (1006-1097) to produce a mural painting for Wen's residence. This mural painting depicted moving clouds in a landscape. Liu Tao-ch'un comments on Ch'en's painting by pointing out that the landscape conveyed a sense of impending rain, and that the painting was meant to praise Wen Yen-po as a benevolent official who nourished people as did the rain."[6] Ho Ch'eng, the artist of one of the paintings of this type in the Cheng Chün group (fig. 5), wrote only a brief dedicatory inscription on it--artists felt no need to specify connotations that were well understood. But a preserved colophon to another painting by Ho Ch'eng, similar in subject and presumably in style, is more informative. It was written by the Grand Secretary Yang Shih-ch'i (1365-1444) for a yün-shan t'u or "hills in clouds picture" by Ho Ch'eng that was being presented to the Imperial Censor Hsiao Ch'i as Hsiao was leaving for Shantung to take up an official post. Yang's poem describes the painting, and ends: "Now, on his piebald horse, he rides eastward again,/ And from horseback gazes toward the mountains of Ch'i and Lu./ When the mists of T'ai-shan arise,/ Every inch offers nourishing rain to humanity."[7] The message carried by these paintings in political contexts was: the people under your care are enjoying (or awaiting) your benevolent administration as the farmers welcome the rain that will nourish their crops. A powerful metaphor once, it may have lost some of its force by the middle Ming through frequent, conventionalized repetition.

The use of paintings of this theme in China requires more investigation; we need to study a great many examples, preserved and recorded, to look for clues in inscriptions, and also to confirm what a preliminary survey indicates: that landscapes of this type are associated, far more than chance will allow, with scholar-official circles, painted either by the officials themselves or by artists active in the capitals and elsewhere who worked for them. Bureaucrat-painters who specialized in them include Mi Fu, Kao K'o-kung, Ho Ch'eng, and many others. To already-existing evidence that some court-academy and Che-school artists did them we can now add the examples by Hsieh Huan and Li Tsai in the Cheng Chün scroll (fig. 3, 4).

Yin Chi-nan makes the interesting suggestion that Li Tsai's use of the Mi style might be related to his Fukien origin, since the style was practiced by a number of artists from that region in the early Ming. One whom he singles out is Kao Ping (1350-1423), who was both a Han-lin academician and a businessman; he wrote an important critical work on T'ang poetry, and was included in the literary group known as the "Ten Masters of Fukien." A painting by Kao Ping in the Mi style is known, a leaf in the Hikkôen album now in the Tokyo National Museum (fig. 6).[8] Although badly worn and repainted, it retains enough of its original appearance to testify to the high level on which the lineage of Mi Yu-jen, Kao K'o-kung, and Fang Ts'ung-i was carried on in the early Ming. Seen beside Li Tsai's painting and the others in the Cheng Chün scroll, it indicates the conventionalization of the subject--the same simple elements are present in all these pictures, in essentially the same arrangement--but also the change in the Mi manner that was occurring. Kao Ping uses graded washes to define substantial landscape forms and set off the fog and water areas; the "Mi dots" are applied to restricted areas of the earth masses, chiefly summits, as softening accents. In this Kao follows Yüan and early Ming models such as Fang Ts'ung-i's 1392 painting in the Shanghai Museum.[9] The paintings by Hsieh Huan, Ho Ch'eng, and Li Tsai in the Cheng Chün scroll (figs. 3-5), all presumably a few decades later than Kao Ping's work, depend more on dotting and wet brushwork to constitute the terrain forms, which seem accordingly less substantial. Mi-manner landscapesof the later Ming and Ch’ing period mostly follow this latter technique.

The use of the Mi style for hills-in-clouds pictures by Che-school and academy masters is not in itself remarkable, given the apparent popularity of these pictures in official circles in the early and middle Ming. What is striking in the examples in the Cheng Chün scroll is that the two by the court artists, Hsieh Huan and Li Tsai, are as loose in execution as the one by the scholar-official amateur Ho Ch'eng, and otherwise not easily distinguishable from his in style; and the difference noted above between these and Kao Ping's painting could well be more a matter of period than of the artist's status.

Paintings of this type, then, made up one of the subject categories within the repertories of court and Che-school artists. The idea of subject categories within landscape painting and the meanings attached to them, how these fitted the pictures for certain functions, and how the compositional structures of the paintings were determined within broad limits by these factors, are questions considered in the landscape chapter of my Three Alternative Histories book. As a further illustration of this idea, putting aside the Huai-an paintings for a moment, we can consider another cluster of works within the Che-school repertory, of which three examples probably by Li Tsai, two of which have recently come to light, form the core. They are: a signed landscape-with-figures in the Palace Museum, Beijing (fig. 10); a similar work in the same collection with an old attribution to Kuo Hsi but now re-attributed convincingly by style to Li Tsai (fig. 11); and another attributed to Kuo Hsi, in the Palace Museum, Taipei, which is enough like the other two to justify the same re-attribution.[10] Once we would have dismissed two of these, and criticized the third, as bad Kuo Hsi imitations. But if we suspend stylistic and qualitative judgements and look hard to see what is happening in the pictures, a common thematic pattern emerges, one that probably brings us closer to the way the paintings were read in Ming times than does the concentration on rough brushwork and stylistic lineage that have preoccupied us. The subject category they represent might be termed: The Scholar-recluse Living in Harmony with Simple Folk in a Rustic Setting.

The paintings differ in detail, but are similar in composition. In each, buildings are disposed on three levels up the right side. In the foreground of each, the proper focus of the picture, the scholar-hermit's villa appears, with the addition in the two Beijing paintings of a riverside pavilion. In the signed work, calligraphy hanging on the wall offers the clue to the status of the inhabitant; in the Beijing "Kuo Hsi" the scholar himself is seen through the window, reading; in the Taipei painting, the man sits at the entrance to his house playing a ch'in, with calligraphy on the screen behind him. The middleground buildings in each picture stand for the rural folk: clusters of thatched cottages in the two Beijing paintings, a rustic inn in the Taipei one. Buddhist temples are seen above in all three, completing the schema. And additional figures--farmers, fishermen, friends coming to visit the recluse--fill out the meaning. Once we have noted this pattern, we can recognize it in others, for instance the well-known "Returning Late from a Spring Outing" ascribed to Tai Chin, where the scholar-recluse knocks at the gate of his villa in the foreground, a returning farmer and a woman shooing chickens outside a thatched cottage stand for the rural folk in middle ground, and the temple appears in its assigned place above.[11]

Besides being attractive images of landscape, these paintings offer assemblages of conventional signs in which the audience can read equally conventional messages about the temperaments and aspirations of officials. Paintings of this type appear to make up another sub-category of what I have suggested might be thought of as a Chinese version of the European pastoral myth. But whether or not this interpretation of the paintings proves to be the correct one, this kind of interpretation, based on groupings by subjects and attempts to read their meanings as a group and within the group, are needed; our failure in the past to ask what the paintings are about, as pictures, is equivalent to reading poems for their sound-patterns, school affiliations, and stylistic influences only, ignoring their meanings.

The Styles of the Paintings

We can begin this section by asking: how much of a revelation are the Huai-an tomb paintings? How much do they tell us about the styles used by early and middle Ming artists that we didn't know already? The answer, I think, is: little that is entirely new; but they focus our attention on certain art-historical phenomena and issues to which we may not have given enough attention in the past.

That some of the styles of the Yüan masters, including some of the scholar-amateurs, were followed by academy and Che-school artists of the Ming more than by the Ming amateurs we knew already. Sheng Mou's style was strongly represented in early Ming court painting, and was later adopted sometimes by Tai Chin (Parting, pl. 13) and others. Wang Mien's blossoming plum painting set a model for Ming practitioners of this genre, both for large imposing pictures on silk and smaller ones on paper. The ink-bamboo painting of Wu Chen was followed by artists of all kinds, as were some features of his landscape style; we should add, however, that Che-school masters on one hand and Wu-school masters such as Shen Chou on the other adopted different elements from Wu's painting and used them somewhat differently. As for Kao K'o-kung's cloudy-hills painting, I myself wrote more than a decade ago that "the following of that arch-amateur Kao K'o-kung, after the end of Yüan, was not so much among the scholar-artists as (somewhat surprisingly) among the Academy painters and other professionals" (Parting, p. 50; today, knowing more about the implications and uses of these pictures, I would be less surprised.) Landscapes based on Kao K'o-kung's style are not unknown in Wu-school painting (e.g. a leaf in Shen Chou's 1482 album, Parting, color plate 5), but again, they tend to adopt and emphasize different aspects of his style. Similar derivations from Yüan styles among the Huai-an paintings, then, are not in themselves especially surprising. What would be surprising would be to find the academy and Che-school artists adopting the Yüan literati styles that were taken up and developed by Liu Chüeh, Shen Chou, and other Wu-school amateurs, and later by Tung Ch'i-ch'ang and others: the styles of Huang Kung-wang, Ni Tsan, Wang Meng, and others of that group in the late Yüan; or, say, the truly amateurish styles of Chao Meng-fu. Until such paintings appear or are identified, and in significant numbers, the picture remains much as we knew it to be.

The same is true for the rough and abbreviated brush manners. That Tai Chin and his followers practiced both the technically-finished Sung-derived styles and rough-brush "amateur-like" styles is well known from often-published works such as Tai's "Fishermen" handscroll in the Freer Gallery and less-known ones such as his long pines-and-rocks handscroll in a private collection in Hong Kong, with laudatory colophons by Wen Cheng-ming and Wang Ch'ung.[12] We could list other rough-brush, abbreviated-style, or even "literati-style" works by academy and Che-school masters: Chou Wen-ching's painting of an old tree, rock, and crows in the Shanghai Museum; Lin Liang's handscroll of birds in trees in the Palace Museum, Beijing; Lü Chi's painting of birds on bamboo in the same collection; some of the 1424 paintings of scenes from the "Homecoming" ode of T'ao Yüan-ming by Li Tsai, Ma Shih, and Hsia Chih in the Liaoning Museum; a farewell painting done by Hsieh Huan in 1452 in a heavily dotted style; and many more.[13] In fact, when we begin to list the 15th and early 16th century painters, Che-school and other, who did both large, finished pictures on silk and smaller, sketchy ones on paper, we find that the number is so large as to indicate a general practice rather than a series of exceptional cases. The question then becomes: how are we to understand this phenomenon? Were they all professionals sometimes and amateurs sometimes? Should distinctions of social class and the economic basis of the artist's activity be erased altogether?

Before we rush to that grand leveling, as some seem inclined to do, we should consider an alternative reading of the Cheng Chün paintings, which I will introduce with a reminiscence. Some years ago I was told by a friend in San Francisco that an old Chinese gentleman there, a former Chinese government official, was the possessor of a collection of paintings in which most of the leading 20th century masters were represented by works they had given him. I went with some anticipation to see the collection, and found that the report was true, but misleadingly true. Nearly all the major artists were indeed represented, along with many lesser ones; but by fan paintings, leaves in collective albums, minor and conventional works. The paintings were inscribed with dedications to him, but when I asked: Did you really know all these artists? the honest reply was: Not really. (We should be careful, I think, in reading dedications as necessarily indicating close relationships: in modern times, we are told, one could leave an order in a mounter's shop, with payment, and receive in time a painting by Ch'i Pai-shih or someone else inscribed to you, as though you were an old friend, without ever meeting the artist. Similarly, all of us who write books have autographed them, after lectures, with expressions of friendship that go beyond the truth.) Because of the man's official position and connections, the artists had all painted something for him; but because his rank was not high or his connections strong, because he lacked the status and importance to elicit better works from the artists, they had given him their minimal products, pictures of the kind they turned out in numbers for just this kind of use.[14] In our century, such a collection would be likely to include an album leaf or fan-painting of prawns or chicks or some plant subject by Ch'i Pai-shih, a simple sketchy landscape by Huang Pin-hung, an often-repeated figure by Fu Pao-shih, and so forth. In the fifteenth century, the equivalent might be a bamboo branch by Hsia Ch'ang, a blossoming plum branch by Ch'en Lu, orchids and chrysanthemums by any of the myriad painters (amateur or professional) who could do them competently, a few sketchy river landscapes with conventional figures, a few hills-in-clouds pictures by a few prominent artists. In short, the Cheng Chün paintings.

I do not want to push this comparison too far; real personal contacts between Cheng and the artists are indicated in at least two of the inscriptions, and the paintings are, to be sure, of higher quality and importance than the collection of the former official in San Francisco. But as a group they are best understood, I think, in the same way, as examples of the quickly-done, somewhat repetitive work that made up part of the output of almost any artist of the time, along with the major works to which he devoted more time and planning. They belong to the type the Chinese call ying-ch’ou and the Japanese tamegaki, works done to repay small obligations or satisfy people of position who expected a painting from the artist.[15] To see the hills-in-clouds paintings by Ho Ch'eng, Hsieh Huan, and Li Tsai (fig. 3-5) in this light goes further in accounting for their character than explanations emphasizing the free spontaneity and expression of personal feelings that later came to be associated with the hsieh-i manner. The "quickness and spontaneity" that these pictures exhibit is less a matter of untrammeled individual creativity--what is remarkable is rather how little of individual style they exhibit--than of conformity to a type to which established values were attached. In this they are like the farewell pictures also painted by Ming academy and Che-school masters, which offer an interestingly analogous subject category.

Many Chinese farewell paintings survive, in both hanging scroll and handscroll form, in which the artists have exercised their powers of invention to vary or reject established formulae and express the idea of separation and sadness of parting in original and moving ways.[16] On the other hand, farewell paintings in the form of (usually short) handscrolls, somewhat schematic in character as though made in a general-purpose way or altering the formula only slightly to fit a particular occasion, seem to have been another item in the repertory of the Che-school masters. Two by Tai Chin, along with the unsigned one by some follower of his in the first Huai-an scroll, can be taken to represent the mid-15th century type;[17] examples by Wu Wei (fig. 7) and Wang E (fig. 8) represent a later 15th and early 16th century type. Even more schematic examples by anonymous or minor artists, mostly of the Ningpo area, have been preserved in Japan.[18] Miyeko Murase observes that "some farewell pictures were standardized, ready-made items, which could be easily purchased when the need arose." And she comments: "The very nature of a farewell painting, usually a small, modest gift, perhaps could not inspire great works of art. . . A strong similarity in these paintings composed in widely separated periods suggests that a standard formula was reproduced faithfully from one generation to another."[19]

Of course farewell paintings, even modest ones, need not be schematic or formulaic; Hsieh Huan in 1452 responded to the experience of parting from a friend with a sensitive portrayal of the two of them seated in a thatched house among trees (cf. footnote above), and Kao Ting, one of the artists of the second Huai-an scroll, expressed his farewell sentiments for Cheng Chün, when Cheng left Chiang-yang in 1441, with a painting of chrysanthemums, adding a long personal inscription. It is no discredit to the artists that they painted the ready-made type to supply demands of the kind Murase suggests; the same artists, we may assume, did more original and personally-felt farewell pictures and other occasional pictures on different occasions.

The extant works of this kind by Wu Wei and Wang E (fig. 7,8), however, appear to represent the more formulaic type, and are painted in a fast, rough manner. As with the hills-in-clouds paintings in the Cheng Chün scroll, this manner of execution seems less a matter of expressionist hsieh-i than an expedient for producing pictures that would serve the conventional purpose quickly and, no doubt, at relatively low cost. Also, and again like the hills-in-clouds paintings, these works reveal little that can be read as individual style; it would be hard to find "Wu Wei style" in the one or "Wang E style" in the other. The fast brushwork of these paintings is certainly not unrelated to the kind of idiosyncratic, "wild" brushwork that certain artists, including Wu Wei himself, were employing in the same period, but it should not, I believe, be simply equated with it. The ideas of self-expression and purposeful stylistic unorthodoxy are debased when they are applied to paintings that follow a formula to the extent that these do, even when it is done with a certain flair. Wu Wei's brilliant "Myriad Miles of the Yangtze River" of 1505 in the Palace Museum, Beijing, or some works by Shih Chung and Tu Chin and others,[20] are better expressions of the "untrammeled spirit' in middle-Ming painting, and even these, as I have argued elsewhere, tend in many cases to conform to each other more than non-conformist paintings should, giving rise to the paradox of a school or movement of "eccentric" masters.

Among the Huai-an tomb paintings, the one that most anticipates the "wild-brushwork" manner of this later group is Ma Shih's picture of a man on a river bank gazing at geese skimming the water (fig. 9). Ma was a follower of Tai Chin, a well-educated man who is said to have been renowned along with his teacher in the capital, and to have surpassed such artists as Li Tsai and Hsieh Huan in the lightness and freedom of his brushwork.[21] Here the movement of the brush seems more frenetic than buoyant; the contrasting of energized foreground with quieter distance is effective, but to see Ma Shih working on a level that justifies his reputation we must still turn to his three paintings in the 1424 T'ao Yüan-ming series.[22] His painting in the Cheng Chün scroll belongs to that ultimately unsatisfying mode that tries to compensate for the over-familiarity of a conventional composition with nervous brushwork, a mode that was to have its vogue for a few decades in the later 15th and early 16th century before disappearing from the scene.

To the question with which we began this section, about how much of a revelation the Huai-an tomb paintings really are, an answer might be that they add significantly to the small extant corpus of modest, functional works done in the fifteenth century by artists associated with officialdom, whether as professional painters or as amateurs. As for why the corpus is so small, it is significant that the Huai-an paintings and most of the minor Ming farewell paintings have survived outside the normal channels of transmission by collectors, through burial in a tomb or by preservation in Japan--through what are, from the viewpoint of traditional Chinese connoisseurship, chance circumstances. They belong, that is, to those large, all-but-lost regions of Chinese painting that Chinese collectors chose not to collect. We have long been aware, although our awareness has perhaps not sufficiently informed our histories, that what we have from the early periods of Chinese painting is only a small fraction of what was produced, and that later critical attitudes and collectors' preferences have determined in large part what constitutes this small fraction. These are the limitations within which art historians today must work. But we welcome any break in the limitations, any new appearance of works outside the pale of critical acceptance that somehow escaped destruction through neglect.

Do the Huai-an paintings, then, testify to types of Ming painting that were later "censored' out of circulation because of some prejudice among collectors against "hsieh-i in the Che school"? That answer has been suggested, and has its measure of truth. But a more comprehensive and fairer answer, I think, would identify a critical bias not so much against the rough styles as such, but against functional paintings, and especially the quickly-done occasional pictures that the Cheng Chün group represents.[23] Chinese connoisseurs and collectors presumably considered such paintings to be of interest and value mainly to the people for whom they were done, and their families and descendants, not to the world at large. Out of an enormous output of paintings--decorative, illustrative, congratulatory, religious, otherwise functional, or simply expressive--they chose a small part as "worthy of refined appreciation" and transmission, and rejected the rest; and pictures of the fast-functional kind simply did not belong to the small part they chose to keep. Their criteria for selection were high quality and originality, mixed, as always, with the biases of their period and their class. From our removed vantage point we might claim greater objectivity of judgement, and try to rescue from neglect certain artists and types of paintings that they rejected; but we would be on shaky ground if we claimed better answers to the questions of what is art and what is good art. On the contrary, we seem less qualified or inclined to attempt answers to those questions now than at any other time in the history of theorizing about art.

While acknowledging this, we can regret the virtual disappearance of whole categories of Chinese painting--what we now call Ch'an Buddhist painting, for instance, would be all but wiped out if it were not for the historical accident of preservation in Japan--and welcome a find like the Huai-an tomb for permitting the partial recovery of one such category. It might inspire us to attempt some archaeology on our own, identifying and re-attributing neglected and misunderstood works in museum basements, auction catalogs, and old publications, and thus reconstructing some of the nearly-lost regions of Chinese painting.

Amateurs and Professionals

At a recent symposium (Cleveland Art Museum, May 6-7, 1989) the "amateur-professional" issue was heatedly discussed once more, and one of the session chairs proposed that we drop these two terms altogether in talking and writing about Chinese painting. I did not respond--I had talked enough (at least) already--but would like to have said: Fine; but we will only have to choose or invent other terms to replace them, if we are to continue serious discussions in our field. Because the issue will not go away; correlations between the social and economic status of the artist and the subjects and styles of the paintings he makes are real and definable, and to disregard them will only set back our understanding.

The Huai-an tomb paintings raise this question again, and to the extent that careful studies of them can refine our formulations on this issue, bringing us closer to a full comprehension of how paintings and artists operated in Ming society, they will have a wholly salutary effect. But some of what has already been written and said about them suggests that they will be used also for arguments that seem to me to blur more than sharpen our understanding, and I want to end by pointing out what I take to be weaknesses in these arguments.

Both scholar-official artists and professional masters, even court painters, are represented among the Huai-an paintings; but the paintings (at least those in the second, Cheng Chün scroll) exhibit no clear separation in subjects or styles that corresponds to this difference in status of the artists. Does the lack of correspondence call into question the amateur-professional distinction? Only slightly, I think. The Huai-an paintings offer more evidence than we had before for areas of overlap, the practice of certain types or genres of painting by artists of both kinds. Those who stress this overlap (such as the authors of the Huai-an volume and Yin Chi-nan) see it as a matter of the professionals using styles associated with the Yüan-period amateurs or literati painters, and with the qualification noted earlier--the Yüan literati styles that were later to be taken as the foundation of the "Southern school" approach are unrepresented here--this interpretation seems justified. A similar phenomenon can be found among the "Ch'an paintings" of the late Sung and Yüan, which were made by both monk-amateurs and professional masters, as Teisuke Toda has pointed out, with the professionals sometimes adopting the styles originated by the monk-amateurs.[24]

The overlaps, in both cases, were in paintings of a kind well within the technical abilities of the amateur artist; painters of both kinds, then, could do them; that they chose to do so, given the demand for such pictures, is unsurprising. Adopting for the moment Howard Rogers's stimulating suggestion (private correspondence) that we use "specialist" instead of "professional" for the Chinese hang-chia, we could recognize that paintings of certain popular and widely-practiced types in the early and middle Ming were painted by both specialist and non-specialist artists. The non-specialist, whose advantages were typically in education, family background, and social standing, might argue that his elevated level of culture made his paintings somehow superior; the specialist might counter with the simple observation that he was the better painter of the two. We need not take sides, nor do the paintings give us any clear support for doing so. But the practice of these technically less demanding types of painting by artists of both kinds in no way erodes the specialist/non-specialist distinction, or whatever we choose to call it. For some household plumbing tasks I have no option but to call a plumber; for other, simpler ones, changing a washer or fixing a simple leak, I can choose between calling the plumber and doing it myself. The existence of this area of overlap in our capacities does not make him less a plumber or me less an art historian. A Ming bureaucrat-amateur attempting one of the grander projects of the court artists would no doubt have made the same mess of it that I would make of a major plumbing job.[25] I am certainly not putting the court painters' achievements into the class of skills or crafts, but only emphasizing the level of technical training they demanded, along with other qualities in the artist.

The Huai-an paintings add to the copious evidence we had already for personal contacts between artists and officials on social occasions, celebratory gatherings, etc. Again, the evidence is welcome in filling out our knowledge of the relationships and the milieu from which the paintings came. Some recent studies have assembled and interpreted evidence for the mutual esteem in which scholars, bureaucrats, and artists held each other, and although we must always allow for the necessarily eulogistic character of certain kinds of writing, such as inscriptions and tomb-biographies, and discount such texts accordingly, these studies have the beneficial effect of tempering our acceptance of the overly divisive Chinese accounts.[26] Still, we must guard against over-reading the social relationships into those grand non-sequiturs that are sometimes proposed, of the type: Kung Hsien and Wang Hui had a drink together on September 8, 1671; therefore you can't really tell the Individualists from the Orthodox masters. Court and Che-school artists in the Ming sometimes moved in socially and institutionally lofty realms, up to the company of the emperor himself, and express their pride over their acceptance into such circles in their inscriptions and seals. But this did not lessen the social gulfs between them and their patrons. Hsieh Huan reportedly played wei-ch'i with the emperor every day; but when he painted the group portrait of the Three Yangs and other high officials in the Apricot Garden in 1437, he represented himself furthest out from the central group, approaching the garden as a semi-outsider.[27]

Finally: does arguing against the reading of the Huai-an paintings as expressionist hsieh-i creations constitute another case of discrimination against the Che school and academy masters, perpetuating the biases of some Chinese critics? I would hope not. My argument is that we should distinguish truly original and serious works, whoever painted them, from the more or less perfunctory kind done for some occasion or small gift. Or at least, we should recognize these as two extremes of a spectrum within which most Ming artists worked, and locate most of the Huai-an paintings closer to the latter than the former end. It may be that economic needs and their position in society obliged the professional masters to engage in a more copious production of such occasional pictures, but most of the amateurs too must have had their small repertories of more-or-less ready-made, multi-purpose pictures they could dash off at parties or to please a host or an influential acquaintance. Even Ni Tsan, in his later years, did so many simple bamboo and bamboo-and-tree pictures that a surprising number survive (the number has been augmented in recent years by examples shown in Chinese museums or reproduced in publications), and some, it should be admitted, are hasty and unattractive scrawls (this judgement will be disputed by those who believe that all genuine Ni Tsans must be superlative works because of their transcendental brushwork.) Hsia Wen-yen wrote of Ni: "In his late years [he painted] in a sketchy and simple way to repay obligations. Thus [his works] appear to have come from two different hands."[28]

We could write equally about "two different hands," and of fast, somewhat perfunctory work, in the cases of artists such as Li Tsai or Wu Wei. If we do so, are we revealing anti-professional bias? That some of the later Ming critics held negative views of professionalism in painting is undeniable; that we ourselves should therefore engage in a kind of art-historical affirmative action and place the professionals and their paintings above criticism is less obvious. In our society, professionalism in art as in most other pursuits is, on the whole, positively regarded; the contrary attitude in China, the "amateur ideal," is one that we must take into account constantly in trying to understand the climate of opinion in which the works of art were produced and received, but not one that we need adopt ourselves. Curiously, the attachment of negative value to professionalism, in the spirit of the Chinese critics, is perpetuated in Western scholarship today chiefly by those who feel obliged to defend the academy and Che-school masters and others against this stigma; if they did not take it to be a stigma, no defense would be needed. And the defense typically takes the form of denying that these artists were professionals at all, or any different from the scholar-amateurs, or that the distinction significantly affected their paintings. This, as I have suggested elsewhere, is a misdirected response to bias, the equivalent of saying that Marion Anderson (a great negro singer) wasn't really very black, or that the American Jewish film-maker Woody Allen's being Jewish is irrelevant to his films. It denigrates, in a subtle way, painters who deserve better.

The Huai-an paintings, as argued above, do not raise the amateur-professional issue by displaying any clear distinctions between "amateurish" and "professional-looking" works, but rather by representing types of painting in which the distinctions are minimized or imperceptible. They also testify to the condition that the loose, "amateurish" styles had reached by the mid-15th century. The idea of a spontaneous individualism manifested in brushwork and other features of painting style had advanced in the Yüan period beyond anything known before, in works by Chao Meng-fu, Ni Tsan, Wang Meng, Fang Ts'ung-i, and others. But this idea, and the styles that had originally signified it, quickly settled into conventions for individualism; after the early Ming, any artist who chose to do so, amateur or professional, could paint in some loose-brush manner and find a literatus-contemporary who would compose a poem celebrating him as "wild and crazy," even if in fact he was only repeating a well-established formula without exerting much individual creativity at all. What followed was the situation that Susan Nelson wrote about illuminatingly for the late Ming, in which certain styles--particularly, for the later i-p'in or "untrammeled" category that was her subject, those of Ni Tsan and Mi Fu--were in themselves signs of an unconstrained spirit and elevated taste, quite apart from the quality and originality of the works in which they were embodied. [29]

Recognizing this in no way denigrates the achievements of Ming artists; but it obligates us to identify and evaluate the best of those achievements, by separating them out from all that is repetitive, perfunctory, second-class. Second-class paintings will of course continue to have an honored place in our museums (not even the richest or oldest of which can have uniformly first-class holdings) and private collections; they will continue to be treated seriously and with respect in our studies and included in our exhibitions. They can have (as the Huai-an paintings have) small touches of originality, modest levels of quality, considerable charm. I admit freely to owning a lot of them myself, and to a continuing fondness for them. But when we write our histories and put together exhibitions aimed at revealing the greatness of Chinese painting, or when we attempt (as I believe we should) relative assessments of artists and paintings, the works that must absorb most of our attention are those in which the artists have kept the level of creative energy high, reshaped the inherited materials, responded sensitively and anew to their surroundings and their situations, sometimes even giving us the sense, however misleading, that they are re-inventing the art of painting. That we will continue to disagree sometimes in our judgements over which artists and paintings deserve recognition as having done that is no reason to abrogate our responsibility for making the judgements.

Abbreviations used in text and notes:

Che-p'ai: Mu I-ch'in, Ming-tai kung-t'ing yü Che-p'ai shu-hua ching-p'in lu Beijing, 1983.

Compelling Image:James Cahill, The Compelling Image: Nature and Style in Seventeenth-century Chinese Painting. Cambridge, 1982.

Eight Dynasties: Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting: The Collections of the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and The Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1980.

Huai-an: Huai-an Ming-mu ch'u-t'u shu-hua (Calligraphy and Paintings Excavated from the Ming Tomb at Huai-an), compiled by the Huaian County Museum, Jiangsu Province, and the Authentication Group of Chinese Ancient Paintings and Calligraphy, Beijing, 1988.

Parting: James Cahill, Parting At the Shore: Chinese Painting of the Early and Middle Ming Dynasty, 1368-1580. Tokyo and New York, 1978.

Three Alternative Histories: James Cahill, Three Alternative HIstories of Chinese Painting (The Murphy Lectures, 1987), Lawrence, Kansas, 1988.

I would like to acknowledge the support of the Center for Chinese Studies, University of California, Berkeley, and the research assistance of Ms. Peihua Lee, in the preparation of this paper.

List of Illustrations


Fig. 1. Anonymous, late Yüan or early Ming dynasty, 14th century? "Reading At a Window Beneath Pines." Section of a handscroll, ink and colors on silk. Ht. 32 cm. From: Huai-an, Pl. 1.

Fig. 2. Yin Shan, "Chung-k'uei and Demons in a Forest." Section of a handscroll, ink and colors on paper. Ht. 24.2 cm. From: Huai-an, Pl. 16.

Fig. 3. Hsieh Huan, "Hills in Clouds." Section of a handscroll, ink on paper. Ht. 28.2 cm. From: Huai-an, Pl. 4.

Fig. 4. Li Tsai, "Hills in Clouds, in the Mi Manner." Section of a handscroll, ink on paper. Ht. 28.2 cm. From: Huai-an, Pl. 5.

Fig. 5. Ho Ch'eng, "Hills in Clouds: Ink Play." Section of a handscroll, ink on paper. Ht. 28.2 cm. From: Huai-an, pl. 3.

Fig. 6. Kao Ping (1350-1423), "Hills in Clouds." Album leaf, ink on paper, 24.8 x 33 cm. From Hikkôen album. Tokyo National Museum.

Fig. 7. Wu Wei (1459-1508), "Farewell at Lung-chiang." Handscroll, ink on paper, 32 x 128.5 cm. Shantung Provincial Museum. From: I-yüan to-ying no. 12, 1981.

Fig. 8. Wang E, "Farewell to Sasaki Nagaharu," handscroll, ink on paper, ht. 29.7 cm. K. Wada collection, Osaka. From: Bijutsu kenkyû, no. 221, March, 1962.

Fig. 9. Ma Shih, "Watching Geese on an Autumn River," handscroll, ink on paper, 19.5 cm. x 42.2 cm. From: Huai-an, Pl. 7.

Fig.10. Li Tsai, "Living in the Mountains, ink on silk, 135 x 76 cm. Palace Museum, Beijing.

Fig.11. Li Tsai, "Living in the Mountains," ink on silk, 165.2 x 90.4 cm. Palace Museum, Beijing.

References in text
[1]The basic publication is: Huai-an (see list of abbreviations at end.) Articles include the preliminary announcement of the find published by the Huai-an Museum in Wen-wu, 1987 no. 3, pp. 1-15; Hsü Pang-ta, “Huai-an Ming-mu ch’u-t’u shu-hua chien hsü,” on questions of authenticity and dating of the paintings, ibid. pp. 16-18; and the valuable article by Yin Chi-nan, “Kuan yü Huai-an Wang Chen mu ch’u-t’u shu-hua ti ch’u-pu jen-chih” (A Preliminary Consideration fo the Calligraphy and Paintings Excavated from the Wang Chen tomg at Huai-an,) Wen-wu, 1988 no. 1, pp. 65-72.

[2]The political implications of some plant subjects in Chinese painting are discussed briefly in my chapter on "Political Themes" in Three Alternative Histories. Cheng-chi Hsü, in the fourth chapter of her dissertation Patronage and the Economic Life of the Artist in Eighteenth Century Yangchow Painting (Berkeley, University of California, 1987), shows how Cheng Hsieh adapted his slender repertory, orchids and bamboo, to a diversity of meanings, political among others, for special recipients and occasions. Ch'i Pai-shih and other recent artists have been well known for giving special meanings, including the political, to plant subjects.

[3]Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting, no. 145.

[4]Thomas Lawton, Chinese Figure Painting, Washington D.C., 1973, p. 145. Stephen Little, "The Demon-Queller and the Art of Ch'iu Ying," Artibus Asiae X|LVI, 1985, pp. 5-128; this passage on p. 40. Julia Andrews, The Significance of Style and Subject Matter in the Painting of Cui Zizhong, doctoral dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1984, pp. 149-151. For Ming and Che-school paintings of Chung-k'uei, see Little, op. cit., fig. 30-33.

[5]I have written about this question in a soon-to-be-published article on the early Ch'ing master Fa Jo-chen, and in the "Meanings and Functions in Chinese Landscape Painting" chapter in Three Alternative Histories. The subject is also treated at several points in Scarlett Ju-yü Jang's doctoral dissertation Issues of Public Service in the Themes of Chinese Court Painting, Berkeley, University of California, 1989.

[6]Scarlett Jang, op. cit., p. 36, citing Liu Tao-ch'un, Sheng-ch'ao ming-hua p'ing, ch. 1.

[7]Yang Shih-ch'i, Tung-li hsü-chi, ch. 57, pp. 121-b.

[8]The Hikkôen album, former Marquis Kuroda and Nakamura collections, is a mixed album of leaves by Sung, Yüan, and early Ming artists. For the leaf by Kao Ping, see also Teisuke Toda, ed., Bokkei Gyokkan (Mu-ch'i, Yü-chien), Suiboku Bijutsu Taikei vol. 2, Tokyo, 1973, pl. 115. The identification of Kao Ping as the artist, based on the presence of his hao Man-shih in the signature and seal, was first made, I believe, by Shujiro Shimada. It has not been followed by later Japanese scholarship, which retains the old attribution to the mysterious "Kao Jan-hui" (see the plate caption in the above book, and the explanatory text by Toshiro Ebine.) For Kao Ping, see Ming Biographical Dictionary p. 923; his biography is in Ming shih.

[9]Chûgoku bijutsu, Tokyo, 1965, v. 3, pl. 12.

[10]For the Beijing Palace Museum worked signed by Li Tsai, see also Che-p'ai, pl. 18. For the "Kuo Hsi" in the same collection, see also Masterworks of Ming and Qing Painting from the Forbidden City, catalog, 1988, no. 3, also Paintings of the Ming Dynasty from the Palace Museum, catalog, Hong Kong, 1988, no. 5. For the Taipei Palace Museum "Kuo Hsi," see Siren, Chinese Painting, vol. III, pl. 176.

[11]Cahill, Chinese Painting, p. 122. Another example is the painting by Wang Shih-ch'ang in the Freer Gallery of Art, see Kei Suzuki, ed., Ri Tô. Ba En. Ka Kei (Li T'ang, Ma Yüan, Hsia Kuei), Suiboku Bijutsu Taikei v. 2, Tokyo, 1974, pl. 74. Paintings of riverside scenes with fishermen in boats and scholar-hermits in houses, such as the well-known Wu Wei handscroll (Cahill, Chinese Painting, p. 119), seem to represent essentially the same theme, but are not so hierarchically arranged, lack the Buddhist temple, etc.

[12]Formerly collection of T.Y. Chao; present whereabouts unknown. For another, similar handscroll by Tai, see Che-p'ai, pl. 64.

[13]For these, see Che-p'ai 14, 34-35, 36, and 66; and for Hsieh Huan's painting, I-yüan chen-shang no. 9. For a full reproduction of the T'ao Yüan-ming scroll, see Liao-ning sheng po-wu-kuan ts'ang-hua chi, Beijing, 1962, II, 8-14. This scroll is sometimes dated 1484 instead of 1424; I lean to the earlier date, but the choice between them is a complex question and does not concern us here.

[14]Another collection of this kind, distinguished by a few substantial works but heavy with fans and other minor pieces, is the collection of F. Y. Chang, who held various educational and economic posts in the 1920s and early 1930s. See Julia Y. Murray, Last of the Mandarins: Chinese Calligraphy and Painting from the F. Y. Chang Collection, Cambridge, Mass., 1987.

[15]Tame is the Japanese reading of the Chinese wei, the word used in dedications, "done for" so-and-so. I learned the word from Shujiro Shimada when, during my Fulbright year in Kyoto (1954-55), I acquired a minor, quickly-painted landscape by Kung Hsien and showed it to him proudly; his use of the term carried some sense of depreciation.

[16]This category of paintings is treated briefly in my landscape chapter of Three Alternative Histories, where examples by Wang Fu and Chang Feng are reproduced. High-level handscroll examples are the painting dated 1122 by Hu Shun-ch'en in the Osaka Municipal Museum (Sôraikan kinshô II, 16) and T'ang Yin's "Parting at Chin-ch'ang" (Parting, pl. 91.) Chinese farewell paintings preserved in Japan have been studied by Kei Kawakami, "Sô Minamoto Nagaharu Kankoku shiga-kan to O Gaku" (The Scroll of Poems and Paintings Given to Minamoto Nagaharu as a Farewell Gift on his Departure for Home from Ming and the Life and Works of Wang E), Bijutsu Kenkyû 221, March 1962, pp. 219-40; and Miyeko Murase, "Farewell Paintings of China: Chinese Gifts to Japanese Visitors," Artibus Asiae XXXII, 1970, pp. 211-236.

[17]One of the examples by Tai Chin is in the Shanghai Museum, see Chung-kuo ku-tai shu-hua t'u-mu, v. II, Beijing, 1987, p. 147, no. 1-0302. It is signed and bears a dedication to "Han-lin I-chia," unidentified; the title, "Parting at Chin-t'ai," was written by Ch'en Nan-yüan. It is in Tai's conservative, Ma Yüan-derived style, and is probably the earlier of the two. The other is in the Suchou Museum, see Su-chou po-wu-kuan ts'ang-hua chi, 1963, pl. 4. It is unsigned, but the first colophon, dated 1441, mentions Tai Chin as the artist. The painting is in Tai's later, more individual style. For an equally "ready-made"-looking birthday painting by Tai Chin, felicitating some official and using all the conventional signs, see Che-p'ai, pl. 61.

[18]See Murase, op. cit., fig. 1 (late 12th century in date), fig. 5 (mid-16th century), fig. 6 (presented to a Japanese visitor in 1550).

[19]Murase, op. cit., p. 231.

[20]For Wu Wei's handscroll, a highly original work, see I-yüan to-ying no. 13, pp. 30-34. Works of this kind by Shih Chung, Kuo Hsü, and Tu Chin are reproduced and discussed in Parting ch. 4, and in the "Quickness and Spontaneity" chapter of Three Alternative Histories.

[21]Hua-shih hui-yao (preface 1631), quoted by Yin Chi-nan, op. cit., p. 65.

[22]See the Liaoning Museum catalog (cf. note ), pl. 8-10. A landscape in the Kuo Hsi manner by him is in the Palace Museum, Taipei (MV 41).

[23]A brief discussion of this question is in the Afterword to the landscape chapter in Three Alternative Histories.

[24]See Teisuke Toda, "Figure Painting and Ch'an-priest Painters in the Late Yüan," Proceedings of the International Symposium on Chinese Painting, Taipei, Palace Museum, 1972, pp. 391-415.
See Teisuke Toda, "Figure Painting and Ch'an-priest Painters in the Late Yüan," Proceedings of the International Symposium on Chinese Painting, Taipei, Palace Museum, 1972, pp. 391-415.

[25]Again, there can be exceptions and overlaps. T'ao Ch'eng, for instance, in addition to loose-brush works like the Cleveland Museum of Art scroll, could do large, academician-like paintings on silk, such as his 1495 "Rabbits and Bamboo in Moonlight" in the Palace Museum, Peking; see Ku-kung po-wu-yüan hua-niao-hua hsüan, Peking, 1965, pl. 43.

[26]Among others, Stephen Little's paper for the Cleveland Museum of Art symposium, "Literati Views of the Zhe School"; Hou-mei Ishida, Wang Fu and the Formation of the Wu School, doctoral disssertation, Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, 1984, ch. I, pp. 7-31, and ch. III, pp. 67-98; and Kathlyn Liscomb, "Eight Views of Beijing: Politics in Literati Art," Artibus Asiae XLIX,1/2, 1988-89, pp. 127-152.

[27]See Parting, pp. 24-25 and Color Plate 2; also Compelling Image p. 115 and fig. 4.15 and 4.16.

[28]Hsia Wen-yen, T'u-hui pao-chien, preface 1365, Hua-shih ts'ung-shu ed. p. 133; translation from Susan Bush and Hsio-yen Shih, ed., Early Chinese Texts on Painting, Cambridge, 1985, p. 256.

[29]Susan E. Nelson, "I-p'in in Later Painting Criticism," in: Susan Bush and Christian Murck, ed., Theories of the Arts in China, Princeton, 1983, pp. 397-424.

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