Painting in National Palace Museum, Song dynasty part3
Welcome to the National Palace Museum's collection of paintings from the Song dynasty! Here, you can explore some of the most beautiful and intricate works of art from this period. You will find Remote View of Streams and Hills by Hsia Kuei, Paised Egrets on a Snowy Bank by Ma Yuan, Evening Outing by Torchlight by Ma Lin, a Scholar painting by an unknown artist, Immortal in Splashed Ink by Liang K'ai, Kuan-yin of a Thousand Arms and Eyes by an unknown artist and Ancient Temple Concealed in Seclusion by Chia Shih-ku. These works of art are all unique and provide us with a glimpse into the past. Come take a look at these incredible artifacts today!
1. Remote View of Streams and Hills
Hsia Kuei is a representative painter of the Southern Sung (1127-1279) court. He is frequently paired with another renowned member of the painting academy, Ma Yuan. Hsia Kuei was a native of Ch'ien-t'ang (modern Hangchow) and it was during the reign of Emperor Ning-tsung (r. 1195-1224) that he received the prestigious Golden Belt and was promoted to the rank of Painter-in-Attendance.
2. Paised Egrets on a Snowy Bank
Ma Yuan was from a family native to Ho-chung, Shansi, but which later moved to Hangchow, the capital of the Southern Sung. He served as a Painter-in-Attendance at the court of Emperors Kuang-tsung and Ning-tsung. He excelled at painting landscapes, birds-and-flowers, and figures. His innovative and evocative style, along with that of his contemporary Hsia Kuei, is associated with the peak of Southern Sung (1127-1279) painting
3. Evening Outing by Torchlight
Ma Lin was born into a family from Ho-chung, Shansi (now modern Yung-chi County) that had moved to Ch'ien-t'ang (Hangchow). The Ma family included many who served the court as painters, and Ma Lin was the fifth generation, the son of the famous artist Ma Yuan. Ma Lin served as a "chih-hou" in the Painting Academy during the reigns of Emperors Ning-tsung and Li-tsung. Most of his surviving works appear to have been done at the command (or for the appreciation) of the court. On his paintings, one often finds poems inscribed by Emperor Ning-tsung, Empress Yang (1162-1232), and Emperor Li-tsung. Ma Lin depicted a large variety of subject matter, but judging from his works, he must have been particularly fond of figure painting. His landscapes have a poetic sense through their use of abbreviated brushwork and evocative washes of ink. This painting is signed, "Your Servitor, Ma Lin," and represents one of his surviving masterpieces done for the court. This work reflects the beautiful scenery of an imperial garden on a moonlit evening and shows the leisurely life of a member of the imperial family. Nevertheless, the interior design of the buildings is classical and simple. The host is sitting on a so-called "general's chair" with footrest and is wearing a plain, long robe. He appears to be appreciating the numerous blossoms on the trees in the courtyard, enjoying the elegant silence of the wondrous scene from the hall. The torches burning on lamp stands extend in two rows from the entrance to the building to add illumination to that of the moon hanging above.
A scholar is shown seated on a lounge bed in deep thought. He holds a brush as if taking a rest from his studies or as is about ready to write something. At his side, a servant is pouring wine. Behind is a screen upon which is painted a sandy shore and waterfowl. Hung over the painting is a portrait of the scholar himself, making this work an interesting "painting within a painting" and also a "double portrait." Several objects are displayed in this setting, including a low table, upon which is placed lute, chessboard, calligraphy, paintings, and various antique vessels. These symbolized the status and traditional leisure activities of the scholar in traditional China starting from the Sung dynasty. Though perhaps meant to evoke the image of China's sage-calligrapher Wang Hsi-chih ca. 303-ca 361, in the Southern Sung 1127-1279, it was already popular to "burn incense, drink tea, hang paintings, arrange flowers" and engage in other such refined activities. If so, then this custom may have begun as early as the late Northern Sung. The lines in this painting are delicate and fluid, forming a fine and descriptive style. The screen painting of birds and flowers is unusual here, since most such "paintings within a painting" include landscapes instead. This work not only reflects the popularity of reeds and waterfowl in the late Northern Sung, but also the style popular in the reign of Emperor Hui-tsung.
5. Immortal in Splashed Ink
Liang K'ai excelled at painting figures, landscapes, Buddhist and Taoist subjects, as well as spirits and deities. He learned painting from Chia Shih-ku fl. mid-12th c, but he outdid his teacher in being able to convey the grace and bearing of figures. In 1210, he was promoted to the rank of Painter-in-Attendance at court and bestowed with the honored Golden Belt. For some reason, however, he refused and left the court with the belt hanging on the academy wall
6. Kuan-yin of a Thousand Arms and Eyes
Kuan-yin is the bodhisattva of mercy and compassion in Buddhism. A common figure in Buddhist art, the representation here differs from the one with one head and two arms often seen. Here, the head of the figure has 26 bodhisattva heads and one Buddha head. In the palm of each of the thousand hands is an eye, hence the name of this work. This type of Kuan-yin represents an important form in esoteric Buddhism. Kuan-yin solemnly stands amid waves on top of a lotus pedestal supported by four Heavenly Kings. On either side are bodhisattva attendants, above are seated Buddhas on auspicious clouds, and below are reverent Eight Deva Kings in two rows. Kuan-yin here bears a moustache, but also has an elegant face and delicate figure, clearly revealing the feminine characteristics in the deity's eventual transformation as the Goddess of Mercy. The painting is elegant colored and the details of the jewelry have been rendered with exceptional finesse. The soft and flowing drapery lines are features of the Southern Sung style of Buddhist art that was transmitted to Japan, making this an important masterpiece of Southern Sung Buddhist painting. Kuan-yin (known in Sanskrit as Avalokitesvara) is the bodhisattva of mercy and compassion in Buddhism A common figure in Buddhist art, the representation here differs from the one with one head and two arms often seen Here, the head of the figure has 26 bodhisattva heads and one Buddha head In the palm of each of the thousand hands is an eye, hence the name of this work This type of Kuan-yin represents an important form in esoteric Buddhism
7. Ancient temple concealed in seclusion
Chia Shih-ku was a native of K'ai-feng in Honan and served in the Imperial Painting Academy during the Shaohsing reign (1131-1162). He excelled at painting Buddhist and Taoist figures, the style for which he patterned after Li Kung-lin (1041-1106). His pai-miao (plain outline) style has an untrammeled manner.