The Landscape Painting of China and Japan

By Hugo Munsterberg | Go to book overview

5
The Northern Sung Period

THE eleventh century built upon the foundations provided by the artistic developments of the tenth, and the result was a flowering of Chinese painting in general, and the landscape in particular, which has seldom been equalled and certainly never surpassed in the history of art. Kuo Hsi was the outstanding painter of this period: such was the opinion of Kuo Jo-hsü in 1074, 56 a verdict with which later critics would readily agree. As he was born in 1020 and died in 1090, the main part of his artistic career falls into the second half of the eleventh century, during which time he was the leading painter- scholar at the Imperial Academy of Painting. His extraordinary fame rests as much upon his literary activities as on his painting for, as we had seen above, his essay on landscape painting entitled Lin Ch'üan Kao Chih, or "The Lofty Message of Forests and Streams," is probably the most famous of all Chinese writings on the art of landscape painting. In it his own thoughts on the subject as well as the more general philosophy of landscape painting are discussed. In writing about the different seasons and how they are reflected in nature, he says:

Spring and summer views of the mountains have certain aspects; autumn and winter views have others. That is to say, the scenery of the four seasons is not the same. The morning view of the mountain has its own appearance, the evening its own; views on a clear day or cloudy day still their own. That is to say, the morning and evening

-43-

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