China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art

China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art

China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art

China Magnificent: Five Thousand Years of Chinese Art

Excerpt

The aim of this survey of China's artistic development is not so much to give a detailed account of the various branches of Chinese art, which has been done more fully in larger works written by specialists in their respective fields, but rather to show the gradual development, organic cohesion and intimate relationship between Chinese art and thought. For in no country has the soul of its people been more strikingly expressed in its art than in China. Every cultural, political and religious movement from without and within became sooner or later apparent in China's artistic expression.

The downfall of the Manchu Dynasty in 1911 ended the third epoch in China's artistic development, and the present volume is brought to a close with this dramatic event. In doing this I would not, however, for a moment imply that China's artistic development has come to an end. During my visit to China in 1931-32 I made a study of present day trends in Chinese art and became satisfied that so far from being dead it is more like a newborn babe. The forces of new life both from within and without are, however, at the present so momentous that it would be a thankless task indeed to try to predict how the art of China during the next epoch is likely to develop. But whatever the trend, there can be no doubt that there is inherent in Chinese art today every possibility for future development.

Raphael Petrucci, who died a victim of the Great War in 1917, ends his excellent little book, Chinese Painters, with the following significant words: "For the Far East as for Europe the problem now presented is that of a revival. Bent beneath the weight of the prestige of the past, too learned in the last word of culture, modern art is trying to find itself, groping blindly, full of promising but unfinished works. The time . . .

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