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Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632-1717)

Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632–1717)

Hearn, Maxwell K., ed., with Wen C. Fong, Chin-Sung Chang, and Maxwell K. Hearn
2008
248 pages
265 illustrations
Association of Art Museum Curators Award for Outstanding Exhibition Catalogue, Runner-Up (2008)
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Wang Hui, the most celebrated painter of late seventeenth-century China, played a key role both in reinvigorating past traditions of landscape painting and in establishing the stylistic foundations for the imperially sponsored art of the Qing court. Drawing upon his protean talent and immense ambition, Wang developed an all-embracing synthesis of historical landscape styles that constituted one of the greatest artistic innovations of late imperial China.

This comprehensive study of the painter, the first published in English, features three essays that together consider his life and career, his artistic achievements, and his masterwork—the series of twelve monumental scrolls depicting the Kangxi emperor's Southern Inspection Tour of 1689. The first essay, by Wen C. Fong, closely examines Wang Hui's genius for "repossessing the past," his ability to engage in an inventive dialogue with previous masters and to absorb their stylistic personae while making works that were distinctly his own. Chin-Sung Chang next traces the entire trajectory of Wang's development as an artist, from his precocious youth in the village of Yushan, through growing local and national fame—first as a copyist, then as the creator of groundbreaking panoramic landscapes—to the ultimate confirmation of his stature with the commission to direct the Southern Inspection Tour project. Focusing on this extraordinary eight-year-long effort, Maxwell K. Hearn's essay discusses the contemporary sources for the scrolls, the working methods of Wang and his assistants (comparing drafts with finished versions), and the artistic innovations reflected in these imposing works, the extant examples of which measure more than two feet high and from forty-six to eighty-six feet long.

Presented in this volume are twenty-seven of Wang Hui's major paintings, including two of the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls, drawn from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and from museums in Beijing, Taipei, Shanghai, the United States, and Canada. These are supplemented by a wealth of comparative images that range from ancient Chinese paintings and seventeenth-century woodblock maps to works by present-day artists. Invaluable information is provided by a scholarly catalogue, compiled by Shi-yee Liu, Research Associate in the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum, which details the inscriptions, colophons, signatures, and seals of each work.

Met Art in Publication

Landscapes after old masters, Dong Qichang  Chinese, Album of eight leaves; ink on paper, China
dated 1630
Landscape in the style of Huang Gongwang, Wang Shimin  Chinese, Hanging scroll; ink on paper, China
1666
Snow Clearing: Landscape after Li Cheng, Wang Hui  Chinese, Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, China
dated 1669
The Sixteen Luohans, Shitao (Zhu Ruoji)  Chinese, Handscroll; ink on paper, China
dated 1667
The Sixteen Luohans, Wu Bin  Chinese, Handscroll; ink and color on paper, China
dated 1591
Clearing after Rain over Streams and Mountains, Wang Hui  Chinese, Hanging scroll; ink on paper, China
dated 1662
The Colors of Mount Taihang, Wang Hui  Chinese, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China
dated 1669
Landscapes after old masters, Wang Hui  Chinese, Album of twelve leaves; ink and color on paper, China
dated 1674 and 1677
Landscape: Eve of Mid-autumn, Unidentified artist, Hanging scroll; ink on paper, China
dated 1686
Summer Mountains, Qu Ding  Chinese, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China
ca. 1050
Landscape in the style of Fan Kuan, Unidentified artist Chinese, active 12th century, Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, China
early 12th century
Landscapes, Fan Qi  Chinese, Album of eight leaves; ink and color on paper, China
dated 1646
Landscapes after old masters, Wang Hui  Chinese, Album of sixteen leaves; ink and color on paper, China
Multiple artists/makers
dated 1692
The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai, Wang Hui and assistants Chinese, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China
datable to 1698
Duke Wen of Jin Recovering His State, Li Tang  Chinese, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China
mid-12th century
Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute: The Story of Lady Wenji, Unidentified artist Chinese, early 15th century, Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on silk, China
early 15th century
Odes of the State of Bin

, Ma Hezhi , and Assistants Chinese, Handscroll; ink, color, gold and silver on silk, China
mid-12th century
The Qianlong Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Four: The Confluence of the Huai and Yellow Rivers (Qianlong nanxun, juan si: Huang Huai jiaoliu), Xu Yang and assistants Chinese, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, lacquer box, China
dated 1770
The Qianlong Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Six: Entering Suzhou along the Grand Canal, Xu Yang and assistants Chinese, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China
dated 1770

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Citation

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Fong, Wen, Chin-Sung Chang, and Maxwell K. Hearn. 2008. Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui, 1632-1717 [Exhibition, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from September 9, 2008, through January 4, 2009]. New York: the Metropolitan museum of art.