Fine Arts | Early Chinese Painting
A566 | 2121 | Nelson
4cr.; SHHS, CSA
This course surveys the history of Chinese painting to the end of
the Song dynasty in the 13th century. Early painting (through
about 600), usually found in funerary contexts, consists largely
of portraits and narratives. Many reflect Confucian ideas about
the state, society, and history, while others represent
alternative Daoist values of private life, the individual, and
the world of nature. In the vigorous imperial culture of the
Tang dynasty (c. 600-900), painting celebrated the strength of
the nation and the prosperity of the court: palaces, tribute
horses, court beauties, and aristocratic sports. With the Song
dynast (c. 900-1300), landscape became the dominant subject, from
monumental mountain scenery of cosmic grandeur to the simple
sprigs of bamboo in monochrome ink.
The course will trace this evolution ,emphasizing the ways in
which pictures have interacted with political/social history and
currents in philosophy, religion, and literature. Topics to be
considered include the relationship between painting, poetry, and
calligraphy; the materials, techniques, and aesthetics of Chinese
brush arts; and the social networks and systems of patronage
within which the pictures were made.
Classes consist of informal lectures with discussion. Readings
are assembled in a coursepack; the main assignments are a
midterm, a final, and a term paper.
In addition to lecture sessions (meeting together with A466),
A566 will also meet separately several times in the course of the
semester to discuss readings on current scholarly issues and
debates in the study of early Chinese painting.