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Tension in 18th century Chinese painting

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Title: Tension in 18th century Chinese painting
Author: Maraun, Timothy Fritz
Degree Master of Arts - MA
Program Fine Arts
Copyright Date: 1990
Subject Keywords Zheng, Xie, 1693-1765 -- Criticism and interpretation; Li, Shan, 1686-1762 -- Criticism and interpretation; Zheng, Xie, 1693-1765; Li, Shan, 1686-1762; Painting, Chinese -- Ming-Qing dynasties, 1368-1912; Painters -- China -- Biography
Abstract: In Western scholarship, eighteenth century Chinese paintings have consistently been seen as playful, eccentric, and odd. This characterization has been based on the formal qualities of some of the paintings. At the same time, Chinese scholars have written of the scholarly virtues and ambitions of the painters producing the works. The contradiction between these two interpretations is in part consistent with the Western and Chinese approaches generally. But it also stems from the mixed signals and information generated in the eighteenth century. The nature of painting, not just formally, but socially has yet to be explained in a way which takes into account some actual historical contradictions of the eighteenth century. In order to explain these historical tensions, I combine a biographical (Chinese) approach with a contextual approach (Western) in a study of two different scholar painters, Zheng Xie and Li Shan. I juxtapose biographical sources with artworks, and less official writings relating Zheng Xie and Li Shan, in order to describe the tensions involved in painting for the literatus within the merchant culture of Yangzhou. These tensions existed between the literatus' expected status and that granted him, between his ideal of the role of painting in the scholar's life and the implications of commercial painting, and between his emphasis upon poetry and his popularity as a painter. In all cases, the tensions in eighteenth century literati painting arise from the difficult relationship between the painter and patron, and between the painter and the ideas of a broader public. The lack of a clear definition of "scholar" and "scholar painting" amongst literati illustrates the literatus' loss of control over the definition of his lifestyle.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/31841
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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