Monday, September 12, 2016

Take Me To The River

When I was about twelve I fell in love with Chinese landscape painting. I discovered the "Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting ( reproduced in translation in the "The Tao of Painting:A Study of the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting" , published by the Bollingen Institute at Princeton with commentary by Mai-Mai Tse) and never looked back.

This weekend I wanted to spend some time looking at my favorite Chinese painting, "Spring Festival Along the River"by the Northern Sung painter Zheng Zeduan/Chang Tse-Tuan,  Its not exactly a classical landscape painting of lonely mountains, clouds and waterfalls.  Instead, Zheng's painting is filled with people on their way  to the Sung capital of Kaifeng during Ch'ing Ming, the spring festival honoring the dead.

Its a leisurely journey along the river through the outskirts of the city, past large and small boats,  over a bridge, through the city gates and into the city itself.  It depicts people of every class and occupation engaged in every possible kind of activity as they come and go alongside the river.  Or listening to a storyteller or minding their storefronts or drinking tea in a teahouse. (Love those camels coming through the city gate.)

I never tire of looking at this masterpiece (which of course, I've only seen in photographic reproduction.)  I have a book at home that has a twelve-page spread of the entire painting in black and white, but its a not very high resolution reproduction.    So I went on line and accidentally stumbled across a site at the University of Chicago that reproduces Chinese scroll paintings.  The viewer can literally "scroll" through the entire scroll while making the very high resolution images larger (to see detail) or smaller (to see the details in their larger context.)

To take a look, go to:

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