Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Wangchuan Villa, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), dated 1711
    Wang Yuanqi (Chinese, 1642–1715)
    Handscroll; ink and color on paper; 14 X 214 9/16 in. (35.6 X 545 cm)
    Artist's inscriptions mounted in front of and following painting
    Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family
    Purchase, Douglas Dillon Gift, 1977 (1977.80)

    The elegant Wangchuan Villa situated in the picturesque hills on the outskirts of Chang'an (modern Xi'an), capital of the Tang dynasty (618–907), is one of the most famous gardens of ancient China. The rambling estate with spectacular scenery was the retreat of the poet, musician, and landscape painter Wang Wei (699–759). Almost a thousand years later, Wang Yuanqi used a rubbing of a Wangchuan composition etched into stone in 1617 for the general outlines of his painting and referred to Wang Wei's poems to guide his inspiration. In a colophon appended to the painting, Wang Yuanqi expresses satisfaction that he has captured some of Wang Wei's idea of "painting in poetry and poetry in painting."

    Tutored in painting by his grandfather Wang Shimin (1592–1680), Wang Yuanqi followed the lead of Dong Qichang (1555–1636), the first artist to transform landscape structure in painting by means of abstract compositional movements known as "breath force" (qishi). Inspired by the archaic convention of ringed mountain motifs in the engraving, Wang Yuanqi created "dragon veins" (longmo), through which the cosmic "breath force" vigorously flows. Calligraphic brush formulas suddenly become torrents of writhing, churning rock forms, rising and falling like waves.


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  • Wangchuan Villa, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), dated 1711
    Wang Yuanqi (Chinese, 1642–1715)
    Handscroll; ink and color on paper; 14 X 214 9/16 in. (35.6 X 545 cm)
    Artist's inscriptions mounted in front of and following painting
    Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family
    Purchase, Douglas Dillon Gift, 1977 (1977.80)

    Wang Yuanqi's inscription reads:

    On the right is Youcheng's [Wang Wei's] Wangchuan Villa. Having written twenty poems of five-word regulated verse to describe the scenes, [Wang Wei] also painted this composition. In the art of the "Six Principles" [i.e., painting], it was Youcheng who first mastered [the secret of] "breath-movement-life-motion," capturing the true composition of the universe. Jing [Hao], Guan [Tong], and Fan [Kuan] of the Northern Song, as well as Gao [Kegong], Zhao [Mengfu], and the Four Masters [Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, and Wang Meng] of the Yuan, all followed [Wang Wei's] ideas, each inheriting the "lamp-flame" and becoming a great master of the Orthodox tradition. Since the Southern Song period, there have been a great many known painters competing with each other like flowers on a piece of brocade, each of them of a different stature, school, and tradition. Though a student might broaden himself by using these different traditions to fill out [his education], were he t


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