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Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting Author(s): Wen C. Fong Source: Art Journal, Vol. 28, No.

4 (Summer, 1969), pp. 388-397 Published by: College Art Association Stable URL: Accessed: 14/09/2010 16:08
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Wen C. Fong Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting

A critical and historical study of Chinese painting has long suffered from the lack of an acceptable method for dating paintings by style. Mr. Li Lin-ts'an of the National Central Museum in Taiwan has published a series of three articles dealing with this problem.' In "Rules for Dating Chinese Painting," Mr. Li lists the study of material, technique, period style, personal style, signature and colophon, and catalogue description as "six methods for dating."2 In "The Dating of Ink-bamboo Painting," he samples eighty-eight bamboo paintings attributed to famous masters, from the tenth through the eighteenth centuries, and attempts diagrams illustrating the technical development of the bamboo stalks and leaves. These diagrams show, for instance, "ring joint technique," "plain joint technique," "dotted joint technique," "natural leaves," "star-shaped leaves," "feathered-shaped leaves," etc.3 Mr. Li's classification of motifs and techniques continues in the tradition of the "Mustard Seed Garden Painter's Manual" of the seventeenth century. By arranging his motifs chronologically, he hopes to establish certain criteria for dating. His demonstration suffers, however, from two serious difficulties: firstly, he is faced with the problem of circularity: that of having to date a style by means of examples which themselves need to be dated; secondly, motifs are easily imitated and perpetuated in the copies. Even if we assume that all of Mr. Li's samples are correctly dated and authentic, his diagrams of motifs merely illustrate, as in the "Mustard Seed Garden Painter's Manual," the technical traditions of the various masters' manners. They provide no clue for the actual dating of a painting, or a copy, in the manner of a given master. I An interesting appendix to Li's "Rules for Dating Chinese Painting" shows seven illustrations by the famous contemporary Chinese painter Chang Ta-chien (or Chang Dai-chien), demonstrating the development of the drawing of the hand as seen in Buddhist wall-paintings at Tun-huang.4 Mr. Chang notes, for instance: in the Northern Wei period, the drawing of fingers shows neither joints nor nails; during the reign of K'ai-yiian, (713742), the hand is plump and soft and has "nails that recede into the finger-tips": during the middle T'ang, the nails "grow over the finger-tip, tapering to a rounded point"; in early Sung hands, there is a short straight line Mr. Fong teaches Chinese art at Princeton. This paper is a statement he wrote some time ago in preparation for a book on Chinese landscape painting. M

4,:t : I

Fig. i. Detail of Mirror, early 8th century, Sh6s6in Treasury, Nara, Japan.

at the base of the finger nail. Mr. Chang's demonstration is methodologically meaningful in at least two respects: firstly, since his wall-painting examples are archaeologically discovered and dated, he does not have to concern himself with the problem of later copying and imitation;5 secondly, by describing not only the shape of the finger nail but also how it is grown on the finger-tip, he is observing a morphological detail, which, if verified by all archaeologically dated examples, may constitute a period characteristic that governs all figure paintings of that period. There is, from the point of view of descriptive method, a significant difference between Li's "starshaped leaves" and Chang's "nails that recede into the finger-tip"; the former merely identifies a two-dimensional
SLi Lin-ts'an, "Chung-kuo-hua tuan-tai-yen-chiu-li [Rules

for Dating Chinese Painting], "in" Studies Presented to Tung Tso-pin on His Sixty-first Birthday," The Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, extra volume no. 4, 1961, pp. 551-582; "Chung-kuo-huashih ti ch'ung-chien [the Reconstruction of Chinese Painting History]." Ta-lu tsa-chih, XXXI, no. 5, 1965, pp. 1-5; "Chung-kuo mo-chu-hua-fa ti tuan-tai-yen-chiu [Study on the Dating of Chinese Ink-bamboo Painting]," The National Palace Museum Quarterly, Vol. I, no. 4, 1967, pp. 25-79.

' There is, of course, the problem of repair and repainting in wall-painting, which often complicates the task of stylistic analysis.

SOp.cit., figures14-17.

' Op. cit., betweenpp. 78-79.

'Op. cit., pp. 554ff.

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Fig. 2. Landscape with Riders on an Elephant, 8th century, Sh6s6in Treasury, Nara, Japan.

motif without indicating its structural relationship with other parts of the painting, while the latter, by showing concern for the relationship between two motifs, the nail and the finger-tip, begins to describe a structural configuration. Mr. Chang, however, did not carry his sensitive
389 Fong: Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting

Fig. 3. Scenes Illustrating the Life of Buddha, 9th century, silk banner from Tunhuang. British Museum.

painter's observations far enough to describe the changing structural configurations of the hands of the various periods. For the early-T'ang period, he merely noted that

"the brushwork is gentle and supple; it is capable of describing some of very difficult hand gestures." When we try to identify and describe an individual manner, we usually note its special form elements, motifs and techniques on the one hand, and its unique expressive qualities on the other. When we try to classify a style, however, we interpret the stylistic peculiarities of an individual work as specific solutions to generic structural problems.6 While neither motif nor quality gives adequate evidence for fixed positions in time, morphological analysis dealing with successive visual structures in history provides a key for dating a painting. From the structural point of view, before a painting of whatever form elements, motifs or techniques can express a certain philosophy or mental outlook, it resents first a solution to the problem of delineation, modelling and composition. Form relationships seem to change without direct relationship to meaning.' An obvious example is that despite the Chinese painter's avowed lack of interest in "form-likeness," they nevertheless successfully mastered illusion in painting. Every Chinese painting is at once representation, decoration and abstraction; it is the arranging of form elements to create a semblance of nature that exists in its own right. From the representational point of view, Chang's illustrations show the development of the drawing of the hand from a two-dimensional silhouetted shape to a three-dimensional and fully articulated, grasping organ: each stage is characterized by certain structural problems and solutions. The Northern Wei hand was neither joints nor nails, because it is conceived as a silhouetted form without organically differentiated comSIn his well-known article on "Style" (in Anthropology Today, edited by A. L. Kroeber, Chicago 1953, pp. 287312), Meyer Schapiro notes that the word "style" is generally used to describe three different aspects of a work of art: 1) form elements or motifs, 2) form relationships, 3) qualities (including an over-all quality which we may call "expression"). Following this definition, we might say that the Chinese critics have traditionally emphasized form elements and qualities, but neglected form relationships, in their stylistic descriptions. See my article, "Chinese Painting: A Statement of Method," Oriental Art, new series, vol. IX, no. 2, summer 1963, pp. 73-78; also my article, "The Problem of Ch'ien Hsiian," The Art Bulletin, XLII, September 1960, p. 188. 'In The Shape of Time (Yale University Press, 1962), Professor George Kubler writes: "the structural forms can be sensed independently of meaning. We know from linguistics in particular that the structural elements undergo more or less regular evolutions in time without
relation to meaning. . . . Similar regularities probably

Fig. 4. Autumn, Eastern Mausoleum at Ch'ing-ling,

Eastern Mongolia,

ca. 1030.

ponents. The early T'ang emphasis on complex hand-gestures reflects an interest in conquering the technical difficulties in representing a hand. Both the short nails "that recede into" the finger-tip and long ones "that grow over" the tip show the middle-T'ang concern for organic details. Finally, the "short straight line at the base of the finger-nail" seen in the early-Sung paintings represents an increasing interest not only in modelling but in decorative stylization as well; both tendencies are typical of the representational art of the tenth century. II The modern notion of a "period style" is based on Wolfflin's famous assumption that "every artist finds certain visual possibilities to which he is bound. Not everything is possible at all times."8 As an abstract concept which deals with the structural principles rather than specifically identifiable motifs and qualities of a work of art, however, a "period style" exists only as an idea. ' Heinrich Wilfflin, Principles of Art History, 1915, translated by M. D. Hottinger, Dover paperback edition, New York, p. 11. Italics added. George Kubler points out that the limits of the existing state of knowledge "confine originality at any moment so that no invention overreaches the potential of its epoch." (op. cit., p. 65).

govern the formal infrastructure of every art" (pp. viiviii).

While it is a natural process of the mind to comprehend facts through generalization, the historian is caught forever in a seemingly absurd circle of having to understand individual facts in terms of a general theory although the latter can be formulated only on the basis of individual facts.9 Faced with a paucity of established stylistic facts in Chinese art history, earlier Western art-historians tended to lean too heavily on metaphors and Western analogies in their characterizations of Chinese stylistic developments. Professor Ludwig Bachhofer, for instance, saw Chinese art as going through the familiar Wdlfflinian cycles of graphic, plastic and ornate-or, archaic, classic and baroque stages.1' However useful it was as a pedagogical device, Bachhofer's dating of individual objects, on the basis of a Stilgeschichte on the W6fflinian model, appeared dogmatic; in one reviewer's words: "There is firstof all an a priori framework into which works of art in evolutionary progression are made to fit .... [Bachhofer is] an art-historian who regards style as the be-all and end-all of art history: style is a kind of sinister autonomous force ' Erwin Panofsky describes this circulus methodicus as an "organic situation." See Meaning in the Visual Arts, Doubleday Anchor Books, New York 1955, pp. 8-10, and 35, n. 3. E. H. Gombrich discusses the problem as follows: "The paradox of the historian's position seems to me precisely that the cherished particular can only be approached on a spiralling path through the labyrinth of general theories, and that these theories can only be mapped out by those who have reached the particular. Think of the exciting adventure of deciphering an ancient script which is not far from everybody's mind today. The individual inscription is studied for what we can learn of the secrets of the script, and the script in its turn for what it will tell us of individual inscriptions. To divorce the one from the other would not only be foolish, it would be impossible." '"Ludwig Bachhofer, A Short History of Chinese Art, Pantheon Books Inc. New York, 1946. According to Professor Bachhofer, the development of Shang bronzes "took its natural course, from the simple to the complicated," moving from the "graphic" to the "plastic" and finally to the "ornate"; the Chou begins with "a new cycle started on a new basis with very simple tectonic forms and ended with complex atectonic forms." Similarly, "it was impossible . . . to keep sculpture from completing its cycle [of

which in all ages and in all climes inexorably induces artists to produce works of art in a certain preordained fashion." It is of course distressing to those who value the individuality of a work of art to have that individuality ignored by generalizations and classifications. To most scholars, documents, literary evidence, and above all, the individual qualities of the artist and his work remain the central important concerns of art history. Professor Max Loehr has suggested that perhaps the dating of copies is not important; "As long as we have no means of ascertaining the authenticity of individual works and attributions [by documentary and historical means], the historian is constrained to concern himself with the question of the authenticity, not of discrete works but of their styles."12 He makes a careful distinction between "authenticity" and "importance"; copies and imitations of famous masters' works can be very important, while archaeological evidence may be authentic but unimportant.13 "The importance of a work," he writes, "depends largely on [the historian's] insight into its onetime stylistic newness." A new style is a new idea .... The

archaic, classic and baroque]." In painting, the major cycle, according to Bachhofer, ends with the "baroque" phase of Southern Sung. With Chao Meng Fu (1254-1322) there began a "neo-Classicism in which many artists saw salvation from the utter destruction of form wrought by a baroque style ... [by turning] deliberately to the linear art of the great T'ang masters." "Mannerism" and "eclecticism" dominated the remaining centuries, with apparently only brief interruptions such as when neo-classicism was fully re-instated by one of the great painters of the sixteenth century, Ch'iu Ying.
391 Fong: Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting

historian is interested in the inceptions of styles, not in their perpetuation.14 In his quest to understand an "important" stylistic "idea," he prefers the evidence of later copies to that of the archaeologically recovered works of the period, trusting himself to the "importance" of the "idea" in the copies. He lines up all the copies and attributions in a distinct manner, meticulously studies and tabulates their motifs, then makes an intuitive leap to an "insight into its one-time stylistic newness."'5 " Review of Bachhofer's book by Benjamin Rowland, Jr., in The Art Bulletin, XXIX, 1949, pp. 139-141. 2 Max Loehr, "Some Fundamental Issues in the History of Chinese Painting," The Journal of Asian Studies, XXIII, no. 2, p. 187. " Loehr writes: "It is conceivable that we might arrive at a fairly accurate idea of the history of Chinese painting on the basis of copies and imitations, if these are understood in their stylistic sequence, and it is equally conceivable that a body of undubitable original works (if there is a way of establishing their genuineness) may not yield an historically intelligible sequence." (Ibid.) 14Ibid., p. 188. " In his recent book, Chinese Landscape Woodcuts from an Imperial Commentary to the Tenth-century Printed Edition of the Buddhist Canon (Cambridge, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1968), Professor Loehr makes a "catalogue of [sixteen] motifs typical of the four woodcuts and of various paintings [attributed to the T'ang and Sung periods] in which the same motifs occur" (p. 42). He then summarizes the qualities which these motifs share in common: "They are bold, even drastic motifs.... There is an element of exaggeration in them, not controlled by rational restraint nor leavened by the experi-

Fig. 5. Fragment from Khara-khoto, Inner Mongolia, ca. 1160-12, ink on silk.

Fig. 6. Wall-painting at Tomb of Feng Tao-chen in Ta-t'ang, Shansi, ca. 1265.

But a true historical synopsis must embrace both conceptual discipline and individual facts. How can we formulate an historical development of Chinese painting which, in short, combines the idea of periodic change in pictorial structure (or form-relationships) in painting, with the knowledge of continuous individual manners characterized by individual motifs (including form elements and techniques) and expressive qualities? We must study the archaeologically recovered early works for the only remaining evidence of fixed visual positions during the early periods. It has frequently been pointed out that archaeological data (including firmly datable works such as those in the Sh6s6in Treasury in ence of consciously explored visual reality" (p. 52). See review by Richard M. Barnhart to appear in Artibus Asiae.

Nara, Japan) are of only limited value, because they represent the work of anonymous craftsmen rather than of ranking artists and, as such, tell us little of the great creative moments of the time. The significance of such data, however, lies in their indubitable authenticity. Archaeological materials showing early Chinese landscape painting through the late-thirteenth century are found from Japan to innermost Asia, and these offer a clearly definable stylistic development. That widely scattered works should appear in a linked sequence of change is important. Even though these works' may not mark the stylistic frontiers of their times, they indicate a set of visual positions that must be taken into account whenever the dating of an attributed work is in question. III The development of landscape painting shown by archaeological evidence from the pre-T'ang (before 7th

century) to the early Yiian period (late 13th century) is one ranging from ideographic motifs to the creation of illusionistic space. The principal elements in Chinese landscape painting are mountains (or rocks) and trees. Archaic representations of mountains and tress closely resembled their ideographic forms: t (shan) showing three mountain peaks, a "host" flanked by two "guest" peaks, * (mu) describing both forking branches above and anchoring roots below. The first important compositional discovery was that overlapping triangular mountain motifs suggest recession (fig. 1). By the seventh and eighth centuries, fixed compositional schemas developed. All the three principal schemas, later described by Kuo Hsi (active ca. 1060-1075) as the "high-distance" (kaoyiian), "flat-distance" (p'ing-yiian) and "deep-distance" (sheng-yiian) views, can be seen among eighth-century paintings in the Sh6s6in, Nara, Japan (fig. 2), and ninthcentury ones from Tun-huang (fig.

These three com-

positional schemas have been basic to Chinese landscape paintins ever since; the picture-plane dominated by vertical elements, the picture-plane filled by a series of horizontal elements, and the picture-plane divided vertically between these two alternatives. In the T'ang and earlySung examples, space is compartmentalized, a picture is entered in stages, each with a suggested receding plane tilted at a different angle towards the viewer. As seen in the wall-paintings at Ch'ing-ling in East Mongolia, dated around 1030 (fig. 4), which represents a panoramic "flatdistance" view, individual motifs are organized on an additive principle; they are seen part by part, and motif by motif. In the silk fragments of landscape sketches from the Central Asian site of Khara-khoto, dated archaeologically before the early-thirteenth century as (fig. 5), and the recently discovered wall-painting at Ta-t'ung in northern China, dated 1265 (fig. 6), spatial continuity developed. This was done first through the fragmentation of mountain masses (fig. 5). Disconnected silhouettes of dissolved forms, ranging continuously through space, are united by the mist or void around them. Finally, physical integration of landscape elements is achieved through the establishment of a consistent, receding ground-plane. In the wall-painting of 1265 (fig. 6), mountains and trees are organic masses. Brushstrokes are fused and blurred; they suggest forms seen through atmosphere.
Four paintings on biwas in the Shas6in, all dated before 756, show the three principal schemas: "Sitting under a Mountain" represents the "high-distance," "Hawks and Ducks" represents the "flat-distance." "Tiger Hunt" and "Musicians on an Elephant" (fig. 2) represents the "deepdistances." In the 9th century Buddhist silk banner from Tun-huang (fig. 3), the top scene is a "deep-distance," the middle is a "high-distance," and the bottom one is a "flatdistance."
393 Fong: Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting

Fig. 7. Fan K'uan (ca. 990-1030), tional Palace Museum, Taiwan.

Travellers among Streams and Mountains, Na.

Each mode of representation corresponds to a way of seeing. Archaic graphic conventions (cf. fig. 1) reduced, transposed and re-created nature; the words of the late fourth-century landscapist Tsung Ping explain this approach: "A vertical stroke of three inches may equal a height of several thousand feet; a horizontal passage of ink of a few feet may represent a distance of a hundred miles.""1 During the late-T'ang and early -Sung period 'TP'ei-wen-chai shu-hua-p'u, chilan v/2a. Translated by
Alexander C. Soper, "Early Chinese Landscape Painting," The Art Bulletin, xxiii/2, June 1941, p. 164.

.. z --oXX::


represented no mere retinal impressions of nature, but images of the macrocosm. In Chang Huati's (twelfth century) words: "Painting distinguished the 'black' of heaven from the 'yellow' of the earth; it disclosed the secrets of the yin and yang of creation. ... Whatever can


M"M '10


won cam A Two

. ....... ......


RM ............ . ---------Fig. 8. Hsia Kuei (ca. 1190-1230),


Sailboat in Rain, Boston Museum of Art.

be comprehended through the figures of the diagrams [of the Book of Changes] may be represented with physical form.1s The Southern Sung treatment of simplified landscape forms in mist, archaeologically exemplified by the Karaikhetsfragment (fig. 5), is described in a text by Han Cho (12th century).'9 In Sailboat in Rain attributed to, and acceptable as by, Hsia Kuei (ca. 1190-1230) at Boston (fig. 8), there is no ground-plane that actually links or holds the objects, but the space depicted is unified and continuous. Frontal silhouettes of mountains and trees are made to float and fade into a void, representing a mist which ties the elements in a sequential fashion, motif by motif. The illusionistic technique shown by the wall-painting of 1265 (fig. 6) is explained in a text by Huang Kung-wang (1269-1354), which in turn perfectly describes the drawing and brush technique seen in the famous



W.: =M**?:?!!iiiiiii iii

Fig. 9. Chao Mang-fu (1254-1322),

Autumn Colors in the Ch'iao and Hua Mountains, dated 1296, National Palace Museum, Taiwan.

(cf. fig. 2, 3 and 4), philosopher-landscapists systematically translated natural phenomena into different sets of interdependent yin-yang relationships. As motifs, there were for instance "earthen mountains" (t'u-shan) and "rocky mountains" (shih-shan), densely foliaged trees and bare branches. In technique, there were brushed lines and inked dots or washes. The "principles" (li), so often discussed by early-Sung theorists, referred to both the principles of nature and the principles of pictorial structure. What was observed in nature must be articulated in theoretical principles as well as pictorial forms. The part-by-part compositions of the Northern Sung, here seen in the magnificent hanging scroll in the Palace Museum in Taiwan, attributed to, and commonly accepted as by, Fan K'uan (ca. 990-1030) (fig. 7) by revealing different views of landscape in a controlled sequence,

handscroll by Huang, Dwelling in the Fu-ch'un Mountain of 1350 (fig. 10). The most important work for the study of early Yiian painting is the short handscroll Autumn Colors in the Ch'iao and Hua Mountains, dated 1296, by Chao Meng-fu (1254-1322) (fig. 9)..20 As a work that exemplifies the Yiian scholar-painting aesthetics, the painting is well known for its use of archaic motifs and calligraphic brushstrokes. Yet in spite of their differences in form elements and brush idioms, there are great structural similarities between this handscroll and the ar" P'ei-wen-chai, chiian b/7a.

"See Osvald Sirdn, The Chinese on the Art of Painting. Peiping 1936, pp. 81-87. " See Chu-sing Li, Autumn Colors on the Ch'iao and Hua Mountains, Ascona, 1965.

Fig. 10. HuangKung-wang(1269-1354), Dwelling in the Fu-ch'anMountains,dated 1350, National Palace Museum,Taiwan.

chaeologically discovered wall-painting of 1265 (fig. 6). Both paintings show an illusionistic technique of creating forms with fused brushstrokes of mixed ink tones, and an integrated spatial organization with a physically described ground-plane. The similarities indicate that, in the second half of the thirteenth century, an anonymous professional wall-painter in the North and a great scholar-painter from the South, despite their differences in expressive intent and artistic reputation, were at approximately the same level in solving the structural problems of landscape representation. It was precisely at the moment when illusion was mastered that leading Yiuan painters sought increasingly for the extra-representational qualities in painting. Ni Tsan (1301-1374) expressed the Yiian interest in "ideawriting" (hsieh-i), when he wrote: "I do not seek for form-likeness, merely using painting to amuse myself."21 Likeness, a matter of eliciting recognition, or the lack of it, can be understood of course only within the context of the visual structure of the time. Although the Yiian painters applied calligraphic techniques to painting, they did not paint calligraphic abstractions. In the accepted works by Chao Meng-fu, Huang Kung-wang and Ni Tsan, individual brush-strokesare subordinate to representation, always describing and modelling form. After the Yiian, brushwork increasingly assumed an independent expressive quality, and eventually dominated the representational form (figs. 11 and 12). Structurally, while the Yiian

painters were concerned with the problems of creating depth and recession and the treatment of forms in space, the Ming painters turned, more and more, to problems of surface organization and decorative values in painting. The very complex details resulting from the "conquest of illusion" in painting demanded new organization through pattern and stylization (fig. 11). Calligraphic mannerisms and archaizing motifs were explored, in the Ming period, for decorative purposes, and at the very end of Ming and in early Ch'ing, as abstract forms in space (fig. 12). IV Visual structure alone, of course, does not fully explain style; an artist's style changes not because of evolutionary law, but because of conscious stylistic choice.22In the second half of the thirteenth century, for instance, Chao Meng-fu (fig. 9) chose to paint in a calligraphic idiom, while the Ta-t'ung wall-painter (fig. 6) used a more conservative ink-wash idiom. Art-historically, this " Max Loehr has formulated this problem well: "Tentatively I would conclude ... that changes of style are not caused by immanent forces; that 'immanence' is a construct derived from an apparent logicality in sequences of style; that this logicality stems from the rational and conscious act of innovation achieved by an individual artist; and that without the creative individual's mind there would be no change, no sequence, no logicality, and no inevitability to speculate upon." ("Some Fundamental
Issues .. ," p. 189).

P'ei-wen-chai, chiian villb.

Fong: Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting


Landscape in the Manner of Wang Meng," Fig. 11. Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1559), dated 1535, National Palace Museum, Taiwan.

difference is more important than the fact that they both worked within an illusionistic structure. Similarly, it means little to say that Ming painting is "decorative" and Ch'ing landscape is "abstract," unless we can relate li i'~:i X the Ming surface decoration and the Ch'ing abstract space to the scholar-painters's expressed interest in calligraphy and the aesthetics of hsieh-i, or "idea-writing." i :I;:?:: iI i The aim of structural analysis is to reconstruct the xiiiiiiiiiiii:;-iii:::::::I.::i formal problem to which stylistic changes must correspond as linked and purposeful solutions. In this reconstruction, historical and literary records, artistic treatises, as well as attributed works which constitute the bulk and essence of the available visual material must necessarily i:i''.ii'i:i?;-'?:!iii ::i:I iiiiiiiiiiiii;)iii'l''i'ii??.; ?i'iii!!iii'i!i?~~i play an even more important role than the archaeological evidence. Literary records usually ignore the common :''''':':::::''' l:iiiii~i ''iii~ iii iiiiiliii iiiiiiiiiiiiriiiiiiiii~ii~iiiiiiiiiilii iiii~i and stress the ............... unique; annals of art record the great moments of creative invention in much the same way as dynastic histories emphasize the heroic exploits of the great leaders. The stylistic development deduced from the ariiiiiiiiiil'i:il'rijiiii i~iii~iiij iiiiiiiiiliiiiiiii ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::iii chaeological evidence, on the other hand, represents a history of style without knowledge of individual contriii~ii~iiiiiii!iii~i : :'::::':'::':':':'::l:'::r::::::: iiiili~i~l~il~i~iiiiii: ILL::iiiiiiiiiiiii butions. With the help of literary records, individual r:i ~ ~ii~iji'~~iiiii~iij:iiii~ contexts and critical purposes can be reconstructed. 'iiiiiiiiiii~~iiil:~ ~\ii:Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii:::iiiririiii iiiii~iiiilllliiiiliiiiiiiiili~iiiiiiiiii~ii Attributed works must be studied in the light of not iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!i~ii:-:iiii'iiii!!!i..:'?iiiiiiiiiiiiiiii: only archaeological and literary evidence, but also all , iiliil:::::::::i::lil::::: liririii'iiiiiii-iiilil~it:.:. 'ii??~~jiiiii:iiiiiiiii~ii_ iiiiii ::::::::::::::::? ::iiiiiiil other attributed works. I suggest that the following coniii iiiiii~iiiiiiiiiiiii'iiii iiiiii :::::::::::.:::::::: ::i:::: ::::::::: ?? sii~i C~liii iii aiiisiderations may eventually bring order to the complexiof Chinese painting history: First of all, we assume ties !iiiiii~i~ii':ii~iiiii~iiii!iiiiiiiiii ?:e: iiiiisijj iiiiii ???:iiriiiiiiil liiii i~i iiiii i!i:: iijithat the manners of the ancient masters underwent visii!i'?ii~ii::.l' iiii~iiiiii~iiiiiiiiiiiii':ii iis-~':;iiiiiii~:liili:i;~'8i ble structural alterations in each century at the hands of their admiring imitators. When a painter paints in the ::: ir~:i l I manner of an ancient master, he borrows first the ob:ii~iiil~iliririiii iij *ii:::::i:::::::::jjiiij i:::i:i~ii~i-i~i~i~i-:iiiiiiiiiiiii:iiiiiii vious identifying brush idioms, form elements and compositional motifs. If he hopes to produce a close likeness .;:?::;.,is.?ii?iii: ?l of his model he also tries to capture its expressive qualities. In expanding the original solution and giving it i fresh understanding, however, the copyist deviates from the original and makes subtle structural changes, thus bringing his work to a new visual position. The copyist, iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii in short, shows in his work not the real ancient master, but a transmitted and transformed image of him. While qualitative differences are difficult to argue about, structural changes can be more easily detected and described.23 Secondly, since the visual material in the Chinese painting field abounds in copies and imitations, it lends itself to Professor George Kubler's idea of "formal se-


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" An exact tracing copy may preserve much of the original structure, but it suffers from a lack of spontaneity in execution. For various methods of forgery, see my article, "The Problem of Forgeries in Chinese Painting," Artibus Asiae, Vol. XXV, 2/3, 1962, pp. 95-119.


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Landscape in the Manner of Huang Kung-wang, Cleveland Museum of Art.

quences" and "linked solutions."24 Copies and derivations of a single composition, done in various periods, form one kind of sequence. Imitations and forgeries of works of a given master, done in various periods, form a second kind of sequence. Signed works of well-known painters of different periods that are deliberately couched in the distinct manners of some earlier masters, say, "Huang Kung-wang," "Wu Chen," "Ni Tsan" or "Wang Meng," form yet a third group of sequences. Properly studied, all the works in different sequences should appear in series of linked solutions, beginning with the original work, or its closest copy, and passing through successive stages of replication and transformation. Since these sequences, or continuous traditions, form parallel stylistic movements, they will corroborate, enrich and modify each other, eventually filling out a general stylistic development through the different periods. Thirdly, to prove the authenticity of an individual work, we must go beyond structure. To prove that one of two attributed works in a stylistic sequence is an original and the other a later imitation; or forgery, we must give in order the following evidence: firstly, that the "correct"
4 Op. cit., pp. 33ff. By characterizing stylistic development in terms of "sequences" and "linked solutions," Professor Kubler avoids the difficulties of both the biographical approach, which limits stylistic description to an individual life span, and a Stilgeschichte on the Wdl;flinian model, which implies a necessary sequence of styles. (See ibid.,

painting is structurally, a work of the period to which it is attributed; secondly, that together with literary and other attributed material, the painting not only contributes to the understanding of the personal style of the master, but also explains the transmitted image of the master's manner in later periods; and finally, that the "wrong" painting can be explained and placed in a later period, within the attributed master's stylistic sequence, or tradition. When the best of the attributed works are established as original masterpieces, or their close copies, they will reveal the great moments of creative progress.

El Greco
These saints do not believe That God can forgive. Not All the Prophets's reassurances Can shake their prideful intelligence. No, not even love, given fully Or received, makes any difference. -Thomas B. Brumbaugh

p. 36).
397 Fong: Toward a Structural Analysis of Chinese Landscape Painting