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CLP 43: 2001 Lecture given at U. C. Irvine on “Alterity”

Irvine lecture on Alterity, Feb. 26, 2001


I’ll begin with observation that will seem so trite, so self-evident, that you will think: is that all he has to tell us? We knew that already. And then I’ll spend some time trying to convince you that the observation is not only true, but important.

It’s this: a culture will find it easier to accept and absorb images and pictorial ideas from a foreign culture if these can be seen as echoing some elements from its own past, however far in the past they may be, and however neglected they may have been in the intervening centuries.

S,S. You may wonder why I begin with these two: what can they have in common? Both are LS; both are regarded now as highly original works, as masterpieces of their artists (Gong Xian, Hokusai).

More importantly for my argument, both made a deep impact and were deeply admired by western viewers, at early stages in our study of E. Asian art, when traditions they belong to were little understood. (In case of Gong Xian , not nec. this very picture, but something like it by the artist.)

Finally, and most to the point, western viewers who were so struck by them didn’t realize, at that early stage, that part of reason they seemed relatively accessible to western eyes is that both artists had incorporated strong elements of western, or European, style into their pictures. In both cases, I believe, the response of western viewers was directed chiefly at the strangeness of the images; but it also, mostly unconsciously, was tinged with a recognition of strangely familiar aspects of them that made them more visually acceptable, saved them from seeming entirely alien. (Same elements, of course, made them seem strikingly original, visually arresting, to viewers w/in the artists’ own cultures.)

Hokusai’s great Red Fuji (or Fuji at Sunrise, or “South Wind, Clear Weather”): What were familiar to western eyes, but original & striking to Japanese, were the blue sky w. white clouds, and the effect of morning sunlight & shadow on the upper & lower parts of the mountain. Familiar to Japanese but strikingly new to western eyes were the flat, shaded areas of color, without dark shadows, and the boldly simplified, strongly patterned composition--for which, if it were to our purpose, I could show precedents in Jap. representations of particular places--shinkeizu--and espec. Mt. Fuji. Edmond de Goncourt wrote about this print in 1896: “Fujiyama colored brick red with a few snow lizards at its peak, against an intensely blue sky lined with layers of white clouds like a beach with the tide out. A print of considerable originality in which the artist has tried to render the effect he has seen [that is, in nature] in all its barely credible reality.”

-- S. Goncourt was aware of Hokusai’s series of strongly westernized LS prints, done some twenty years earlier, around 1810; he writes that these landscapes “have a Dutch feeling about them.” (A bit of an understatement.) But to account for the striking coloring in the Red Fuji, coloring that was quite outside the Japanese LS tradition, he makes the European assumption that Hokusai had simply imitated the coloring of nature, as any observant artist might do. About the whole Views of Fuji series he wrote, “The series . . . with somewhat garish colors that were chosen to match as closely as possible the colors seen under every light in nature, is currently the source of inspiration for the landscapes of the Impressionists.” Europe was getting back what it gave, somewhat altered.

-- S. (Another of the westernized series, for the shading.) I oversimplify the responses, of course, to make my point--which is that aspects of the image that fit w/in one’s own tradition render the picture acceptable and readable, even comfortable, while those that are adopted from another tradition supply a special visual stimulation, a sense of newness, and so save it from banality, from being just another picture of Mt. Fuji. By brilliantly bringing these together, Hokusai could (without meaning to, of course) dazzle both Japanese and foreign viewers.

S -- Gong Xian’s masterwork “Myriad Peaks and Ravines” in the Rietberg Museum, Zurich. Arthur Waley ended his 1923 book Introduction to Chinese Painting with this extraordinary paragraph, perhaps the first perceptive thing that a western viewer had written about a post-Song Chinese painting: “He [Gong Xian] saw Nature as a vast battlefield strewn with sinister wreckage. His rivers have a glazed and vacant stare; his trees are gaunt and stricken; his skies lower with a sodden pall of grey. Many of his pictures contain no sign of man or human habitation . . . Such houses as he does put into his pictures have a blank, tomb-like appearance; his villages look like grave-yards. With this tragic master I conclude.” Words that fit this picture, whether or not Waley knew it (as he could have, from reproduction.)

--S. Waley had no way of knowing that behind Gong Xian’s most striking effects, and behind their relative accessibility to western eyes, lay Gong’s familiarity with European prints, which could be seen by Chinese painters from the late 16th century in increasing numbers, brought first by Jesuit missionaries and later imported through other channels. I have suggested even that Gong Xian’s “Myriad Peaks and Ravines” was a brilliant reworking of the print at right, the “View of Tempe” from Ortelius’s atlas of 1679, which was well known in China. It was the western-derived elements that must have struck Gong Xian’s Chinese contemporaries most forcefully: the highly unusual composition, based on diagonals that don’t recede, and the strong effect of light and shadow, achieved by a system of applying ink in a manner closer to western stippling than to Chinese texture strokes (cunfa). Yet Gong Xian could claim that his ptgs were solidly in the lineage of such great early Chinese landscapists as Dong Yuan and Mi Fu, and Chinese viewers would know exactly what he meant, recognize traits of those styles in his ptgs and accept his works as permissable departures from tradition.

I begin with these two examples to make as forcefully as I can my two principal points: the one about what appear to be echoes of one’s own tradition making an art work easier to assimilate; and another, that adoptions by artists of elements from an alien tradition, far from reducing the originality of their works (as is sometimes charged, or at least implicit in writings on the subject), more often permit strikingly innovative effects exactly by incorporating unfamiliar materials or techniques into a native context. Doing this broadens the appeal of such works to viewers of diverse backgrounds and tastes. For just that reason, the literati or scholar-amateurs in China, who had nothing but scorn for appealing or stimulating effects in painting (and who were even inclined to push Gong Xian outside the pale, for what they took to be his “bad brushwork”) condemned all borrowings from European styles, while the professional masters, including the ones I’ll talk about tonight, were more likely to make use of them, in some form.

S,S. But before turning to that I want to offer one more example of this phenomenon. Adoptions from European pictures by landscapists of the late Ming period were more acceptable because they could be presented as reviving the style of the monumental landscape painting of the Northern Song period, the 10th-11th centuries. I treat this phenomenon in my book The Compelling Image, and will only refer to the argument here, without taking time to present it fully. In the late Ming it’s Wu Bin, whose impressive landscapes, such as this one from 1615, indeed re-introduce ways of rendering space and mass, as well as compositional devices, from the Northern Song, (Identify: Yan Wengui, 10th-11th cent.)

-- S. But this revival was in part inspired, I’m convinced, by the artists’ sudden exposure to European pictures, chiefly engravings, such as this one (from the Braun and Hogenberg Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Cities of the World, known to have been in China by the late 16th century.) While working through this problem I asked my then-colleague Michael Baxandall whether he could think of a similar situation in European art, and he offered one: how German painters, confronted suddenly with the styles of Renaissance Italy, managed to find precedents in their own past for what they took.

S --. Similarly, late Ming landscapes done in bright colors, such as this one by Lan Ying, were presented and understood as allusions to the so-called “boneless” styles, done in color without ink outlines, that had been practiced in the Tang and pre-Tang periods, instead of responses to European oil paintings, as I believe them to have been, in some part. Again, I discuss in my Compelling Image book, with examples, this Chinese tendency to avoid acknowledging borrowings from outside their tradition, preferring to say, with a modicum of validity, “Oh yes, we were already doing that back in the Northern Song period.”

S --. In the early Qing it’s Gong Xian, among others, who (as we saw a moment ago) takes up the new modes of representation while referring them back to the distant reaches of China’s own past. The point is that nothing of the kind had been painted in the six or seven centuries that intervened; it was the sudden coming of the Western pictures that stimulated Gong Xian and others to explore this direction once more, after the long lapse.

S,S. More overtly westernized landscape paintings are also done in China--here, two leaves from an album of scenes of Mt. Tiantai by Daocun, dated 1706 or 1766 (his period of activity is unclear.) These present a very strange, even bizarre, mixture of Chinese and European style. What can he have seen and imitated?

-- S. Perhaps something like this “Landscape with Flight Into Egypt” by the 17th century (Dutch?) master Paul Bril, with which it has quite a lot in common. But the origins of this kind of landscape in Northern Europe, in the Danube School, Altdorfer etc., may well have been stimulated significantly, in turn, by seeing Chinese pictures--at least, this argument has been made, with good basis, I think. Someone of a diffusionist temperament who is truly conversant with both traditions, and who is thick-skinned enough to withstand the remonstrances of colleagues who point out that such a project goes against current trends in art-historical studies, will eventually have to straighten this all out.

S,S. A few other odd examples of Europeanized Chinese painting from the 17th and 18th centuries, just to dispose of them before we go on to more interesting cases, in which the foreign elements have been more effectively absorbed into the fabric of Chinese painting. Pictures of European figures and scenes held for Chinese viewers the same kind of fascination that pictures of an imagined China had for westerners--these represent, that is, a kind of reverse chinoiserie. They belong on the outer fringes of our subject. But note, while they are on the screen, the view into a shadowy interior in the one picture, the heavy shading of the folds of the robe in the other, features of the foreign style that the better Chinese artists used in more creative ways, as we will see.

S.S. Studies of so-called European influence in Chinese painting have mostly concentrated on a single aspect of it, the Chinese use of vanishing-point perspective as it was developed in Europe, especially in Italy. In this I think they have missed the main points, and concentrated on the wrong materials. It is true enough that some Chinese artists of the period, and their audiences, reveal their fascination with it in pictures like these--at left, a cityscape attributed (unconvincingly) to the late 17th-early 18th cent. academy master Jiao Bingzhen, in the Yamato Bunkakan, Japan; at left, one of a series of paintings of Chinese interiors in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, 18th century in date. It was also used in some illusionistic, even trompe l’oeil wall paintings within the Manchu palace, as exotic diversions for the Manchu emperors. We read of Chinese being so fooled by such pictures that they tried to walk into them, and bumped their heads.

S,S. As in Japan, Chinese makers of popular prints, who wanted always to offer their customers something new and exotic, designed prints in which the vanishing-point perspective was the organizing principle of the compositions, and all the rest arranged along the receding lines and planes. But linear perspective was not, in the end, attractive to Chinese audiences, except as a novelty, and played no notable part in serious painting. In spite of some experimentation with the device in Tang wall painting, both at Dunhuang and in the Xi’an tomb paintings (you may have heard about this from Roderick Whitfield), there was no precedent for it in Chinese painting; moreover, it had the disturbing effect, I think, of rupturing the picture plane more than the Chinese, who had never thought of the picture frame as a window through which one looked into a separate space, were comfortable with.

S --. An engraving from a series of scenes from the life of Christ, pictures by the brothers Wierix illustrating Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines, copies of which had been brought to China by the Jesuits, and which appears to have been drawn on, along with other western pictorial sources, by many Chinese artists of the late Ming and Qing. Apart from the linear perspective, which is indeed used in these (less conspicuously), two other devices can be marked that seem to have exerted greater attractions on Chinese painters of the kind I will be discussing. One is the heavy light-dark shading in the figures; the other, even more important (but quite missed up to now by scholars studying “western influence” in Chinese painting) is the northern European device, familiar in Dutch and Flemish painting of the 16th-17th centuries, of drawing the viewer back into further spaces beyond the principal foreground space. We look into a side room at left, and further back through a doorway into a more brightly lit room beyond. How some Chinese artists adapted this device to their needs will be the main theme of what remains of this lecture. First, however, still another brief excursion (the last): Chinese responses to the heavy shading in the robes of the figures, and in some architectural elements, furniture, etc. that can be seen in the European print.

-- S. Chinese artists who employed this technique typically used it to make their pictures more bizarre, instead of more realistic. Although illusionistic in intent, that is, it must have impressed Chinese viewers of the western pictures as oddly unreal and excessive, as indeed it looks to us. The anonymous artist of this album of arhat paintings in the Freer Gallery, datable to the late Ming or early Qing period, uses it that way,

-- S. as does the major late Ming figure master Cui Cizhong, in this, one of his pictures of the Bodhisattva Manjusri supervising the washing of the white elephant. (Point out.) The shading serves to give an effect of volume to radically distorted forms, only enhancing thereby their strangeness--a strategem common in late Ming painting, discussed at length in my Compelling Image book.

-- S. A painting given recently to the Yale U. Art Gallery as a gift, anonymous and presumably early Qing in date, carries this curious practice further. It must be one of a narrative series, illustrating an unidentified story--it’s unintelligible alone. (Somebody being whipped.) This is one of those pictures that must represent a whole lost type or category, the nature and purpose of which we can only dimly imagine from this chance survivor. There are many such in Chinese painting, mostly in foreign collections and minor Chinese holdings such as so-called study collections, works that testify to an unsuspected multiplicity of styles and types within Chinese painting, and also to the depressing success that the literati critics and collectors achieved in suppressing most of them as low-class, not worthy of preservation.

S --. Now, at last, into the main material & phenomena of my lecture: adoptions from European pictorial art by artists I am calling (for lack of established term, since they have been largely ignored in studies of Chinese painting, both Chinese and foreign) urban studio masters. (Explain.) The period I am concerned with is mainly the later 17th and 18th centuries, sometimes called High Qing; and the borrowings I will now discuss are those that have to do with space and shadows. And I will argue, again, that (etc.--corres. in past.) This is another of the prints from the series by the Wierixes illustrating Nadal’s Life of Christ, produced in Antwerp in 1593-4, a major source for Chinese understanding of these European devices. Again, the viewer’s eye is drawn back through two successive openings into depth, and also leftward through an arched doorway into the town outside.

-- S. This is a leaf from an album of occupations of palace ladies painted in 1738 by Chen Mei, who was working at that time in the imperial academy. Writings on semi-europeanized Ch ptg of this period have concentrated on the court academy in Beijing, not recognizing that most of the artists who served there came from the southern (Jiangnan) cities; Chen Mei, for instance, was from Songjiang in Jiangsu Province. And, I have argued, they brought more with them than they took away; so that locating the focus of this phenomenon in the court presents the matter upside down. In any case, they took up eagerly the northern European spatial system used by Dutch and Flemish artists--a system contrasted, in Svetlana Alpers’s well-known formulation, with the linear perspective of the south, or Italy, which, as I’ve shown, was less appealing or useful to the Chinese. (Point out similarities.)

S,S. Two leaves from a similar album painted by Chen Mei’s teacher Jiao Bingzhen, who is commonly regarded as the central figure in the adoption of these foreign techniques into Chinese painting. He was a northerner, perhaps trained in a Shandong tradition continuing from Cui Cizhong; after entering the Academy he had served, along with Jesuit astronomers, in the imperial observatory, and a standard explanation is that he learned perspective and the rest through these contacts. There is no doubt some truth in this, but I think that what Jiao and other painters learned was more likely through observation of paintings or prints than through learned discourses and diagrams from European astronomers. The dialogue, that is, is mainly between the pictures, here as elsewhere. (Show: thickness of door & window, etc.)

S,S. Now, part of what made this device more acceptable than Italian-style perspective, I think, is that something like it could be recalled from the distant past of the Chinese painting tradition. It had happened back in the tenth century, the Five Dynasties and early Song period; I gave a paper on it some years ago. After centuries of cumulative, collective mastery of techniques for giving a sense or illusion of space in their pictures, Chinese artists of this period were able to create intricate structures of interpenetrating spaces opening back and sideward from the foreground space, and to give their viewers a sense of being able to explore the paintings visually, penetrating ever further, discovering more and more detail, as they might explore a real, three-dimensional world. Examples that survive include the picture at left of a Daoist retreat in the mountains, found in a tomb dating to the mid-10th century or a bit later, and so especially important (show composition); a painting titled “A Lofty Scholar” attributed to an artist active at this time named Wei Hsien;

S --. Here is a detail from it (show);


S,S. an anonymous work in the Shanghai Museum portraying in astonishing detail a flour mill powered by a water wheel built over a canal lock, in which one looks not only at the mechanism of the mill and the waterwheel but even through windows of the inn at lower right, to see diners,

-- S. or, below, through an entranceway in the foreshortened, receding front of the building, where a servant waits, and two scrolls of calligraphy can be seen on the further wall;

S,S. And, most to our purpose, the famous handscroll “Han Xizai’s Night Revels” attributed to the 10th century master Gu Hongzhong, of which these are the first two sections. It exists now only in a copy made two or three centuries later, at a time when such illusionism was no longer practiced and artists had forgotten how to do it; the copyist no doubt loses much of the spatial complexity and persuasiveness of the original. Even so, we can imagine (etc., describe. Recessed spaces in beds--accessible by sight and sound--gratifies voyeuristic impulses. Original perhaps more titillating.)

We should note here this conjunction: spatial penetration and eroticism, since it is crucial to all that will follow. Simple way of associating these too obvious to need pointing out; I attempt in my book more complex and subtle ways, which I can only suggest here.

So, how are these 10th century achievements followed up in succeeding centuries. Answer is: they aren’t. Chinese painting has “advanced” (if one chooses to see it that way) in the direction of lifelikeness, “truth to optical experience,” etc. (and I know perfectly well the problematic character of such terms, without giving in to the extreme contention that they are meaningless) --”advanced” in this direction by the 10th--11th century as far as it was ever to go; and for the remainder of its history, moved in distinctly different directions. What those were is too large a subject even to outline here; it’s enough to say that nothing of the kind is even attempted in painting of the next six or seven centuries. And when something like it is attempted again, it is stimulated, I believe, by new contacts with a pictorial art (the European) in which such illusionism had continued to be a goal. as it had long ceased to be in China, at least on what were considered to be the loftier levels of the art.

S.S. A pivotal part in developing the old/new techniques, partly revived, partly imported--but with the latter playing, I believe, a more decisive role--can be credited, on present evidence, to the early Qing Suzhou master Gu Jianlong--a painter of small reputation who scarcely figures in conventional histories of Chinese painting, but who begins to loom large as an unrecognized innovator when we look beyond the boundaries of literati or scholar-amateur painting, the lineage that has claimed the forefront of Chinese painting from the 14th century on, a claim to which we have unthinkingly acceded. One of Gu Jianlong’s specialties appears to have been erotic albums; and an album by him of that kind, bowdlerized by having the naughty bits painted over, was published as a reproduction album in the 1940s. These are two leaves (describe).

Now, these leaves don’t exhibit any notable spatial illusionism, nor are they in any recognizably westernized style. But they do make effective use of further spaces for establishing an implied narrative or a voyeuristic sub-theme. And it’s clear that this new mode of composing the picture, although it might have some precedent in early Chinese painting, was mainly inspired by contacts with the European pictures.

S,S. A series of 200 illustrations to the late Ming erotic novel Jin Ping Mei, produced by Gu Jianlong while he was serving at the Manchu court under the Kangxi Emperor in the 1660s-70s. exhibits the same spatial devices. Most of the leaves are known now only from an old reproduction book; these are two of them, unbowdlerized. (Point out what’s happening.)

S,S. Another leaf from the series, now in the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, KC; and a painting of Emperor Ming-huang spying on his favorite concubine Yang Gufei bathing, attributable by style to the same Gu Jianlong. (Describe.)

S,S. I will offer a few more pairings, western painting or print with Chinese, to point out other devices the Chinese artists were adopting and turning to their very different purposes. (Lecture in symposium in NYC next month in which main point will be wrongness of idea of “influence” in art-historical situations of this kind---) Here, a leaf from a later erotic album (mid-18th century; the last openly erotic painting I will show--they’re not what my lecture is about) with the Dutch painter Nicholas Maes’s 1657 “The Eavesdropper,” to represent the device of the split view, drawing the eye in two directions away from the focal center: the complicit maid in the Dutch picture, the uncouth traveling merchant propositioning the tavern girl in the other. I am certainly not suggesting that this artist saw this picture--for one thing, Dutch paintings of this kind weren’t to be seen in China, and the compositional devices must have been transmitted by way of engravings or other prints. My point is that as time went on, more and more interesting compositional types from European pictorial art were accessible to the Chinese, and could be drawn on for a diversity of effects.

S,S. The device of using objects to bridge the transition from nearer to further spaces: a painting by Jan Steen of a woman in her boudoir (the Chinese equivalents for these we will see later) with a lute in the doorway; and one of Jiao Bingzhen’s series of scenes of silk-weaving, now preserved only in woodblock prints, the original paintings being lost. (Point out dogs)

S,S. Really deep spatial penetration, room beyond room: Emmanuel de Witte’s “Woman at Clavichord” and the well-known anonymous 18th century painting in the Freer Gallery, by one of our city artists, usually identified as portraying the principals of the “Western Garden” drama. The main difference is that where the Dutch ptg locates the narrative elements to the sides of the recession--maid playing music at right to divert attn. from hanky-panky going on in bed at left, between her mistress and some gallant--the Chinese one places them center-stage and draws the eye sideward into the further room and thence out into the garden. The experience of being presented first with the large figures absorbed in their love affair and then moving back into a fully-furnished, lovingly detailed room (the setting of these scenes in richly-appointed interiors has implications that I haven’t time to take up here) and finally through the further door--all this works to engage the viewer more insistently and completely than looking into a simple foreground space could do--again, a process that merits deeper analysis, and receives it in my book-in-progress.

S --. A painting by the 18th century academy artist Jin Tingbiao uses a similar composition, this time to enable us to see around, and so envelop visually, a lovely court lady who is preparing, we can suppose, for the emperor’s visit. (Describe)

S,S. You may be surprised to learn that in speaking or writing about these borrowings, I constantly run up against a disbelieving response from people, Chinese and other, who want to preserve a notion of Chinese cultural self-sufficiency, even insularity, and who would rather believe that the Chinese artists developed all these devices--unknown previously in Chinese painting--quite on their own, independently. But that argument can’t be sustained in the face of the visual evidence, pairings like the ones we’ve seen, or this one. The image of the woman in her boudoir, developed in Dutch painting in the 17th century for the voyeuristic pleasure of male viewers, reaches China somehow--probably through engravings based on paintings (which were being imported by the thousands) and transforms the whole genre of meiren or beautiful-woman painting. moving it, so to speak, indoors. A painting by Gerald Dou, at left, done in 1667; one by Leng Mei at right, probably from the 1720s. (Point out: curtain etc.)

S.S. Before we return to the boudoir, let me show this very beautiful painting, now in a private collection in Boston. It is very large--about 10 feet wide--and is by one of the little-known urban masters, Hua Xuan who worked in Wuxi. (Sig. w. date probably 1726.) (Subject) Uses trick of having women seem to come out into our space--this one with her fingers and her fan in front of the pillar, her sleeve overhanging the railing,

S --. this one leaning on it, her sleeve hanging down in front as she gazes provocatively out at the viewer. (Make point of size, realistic style (in Chinese context), no large insc. or seals to hold viewer’s attn. on surface--closest possible approximation to gazing at subject in real life. (True of nearly all these.)

S,S. Ptg that started me, years ago, on this whole line of investigation (describe--) So-called Mme. Hedong, or Liu Yin. Most of these ptgs, in order to survive, had to be misrepresented in some way--

S --. (Other version, complete, known only in old reproduction.)

S,S. Earlier, in Ming dyn., beautiful women had been set in gardens: (describe) (Shen Shigeng 1642; other early Qing.)

S --. Image could be made sexier by various devices: deshabille, provocative pose & look (pinky to lips) (Huang Shifu, 1640, ident. in inscription as #18--belongs in series of portraits of someone’s concubines?

-- S. First datable meiren picture to locate woman in her bedroom is this one, by Yu Zhiding, 1696. Much less sexy; belongs to “waiting woman” type. (etc.)

S --. To illustrate the lively back-and-forth going on at this time between China and Europe, I show this picture, about thirty years earlier, an illustration in Aloysius Kircher’s book on China, published in Amsterdam in 1667. Meant to represent Chinese woman in her boudoir. (Describe: European artist is more than a little mixed up about how a hanging scroll is displayed. Yu Zhiding has trouble fitting woman convincingly into newfound spaces.) Each artist understands something of the other’s tradition, but not enough. Once more, not suggesting any direct link between the two; only using them to show what can happen when two great cultures with highly developed traditions of pictorial art suddenly become involved in this kind of interchange. And this whole fascinating episode has gone untreated by art historians, largely because of the squeamishness I spoke of earlier, both in recognizing adoptions by Chinese from Europe and in admitting that paintings of this kind deserve serious attention at all.

S,S. I will conclude quickly. Two examples of the new illusionistic meiren pictures, one by Leng Mei, 1724, other by Wang Chengpei, beginning of 19c.. (I know it only from auction cat.--if anybody knows its present whereabouts, I’d like to learn it.) Wang’s is a near-photographic depiction of “waiting woman”--but cool in tone. (Tell of one in Honglou Meng, hanging in bedroom of hero, Baozhai.) Other less illusionistic, but sexier:

S --. Detail of face

S --. Detail of lower part.

S, S. In a variant of this type, the woman is seen through a window; the viewer must remain outside, although the possibility of access is implied by the large round window, which in Chinese houses is always on the ground floor. One on left by Yangzhou master Zhang Zhen, specialist in these; one at right by him or his son--both served in the court academy--one of series done for prince who would become Yongzheng Emperor. Paper of mine builds elaborate argument around these & others.

S,S. Voyeuristic effect of these ptgs is enhanced when women are spied on doing something seemingly illicit--engaged in erotic reveries. Describe--Yu Zhiding; “Leng Mei” (not really) in Chicago Art Inst. cataloged as “Portrait of a Court Lady.” Did nobody look at these pictures?

S,S. Last slides of evening. So as not to end on a lurid note, I show finally the whole and a detail of this cool, beautiful, little-known imaginary portrait of the Song-period poet Li Qingzhao, active in the early 12th century. Artist is also little-known: Cui Hui, active in north, assoc. somehow w. imperial acad. but never served in it. Nothing enticing or sexy here--Li Qingzhao is presented as beautiful, but that’s almost beside the point. She’s portrayed as a serious, dignified woman in her study, pulling back a chair and gesturing, perhaps inviting a fellow-poet to join her. Only an art historian would notice that the drawing of the window and the furniture, the clear and orderly spatial scheme, depend in some part on the developments we’ve been considering. Everything that derives from the foreign pictures is by now so thoroughly absorbed into the very fabric of the Chinese pictorial tradition that there is no sense of strangeness at all. Alterity transcended, if you will. I could elaborate on that observation with quite a few other examples, if time permitted; but I’ve run on quite long enough. Thank you.

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