Sunday, 15 January 2012

A Riverside Scene At Qingming Festival

A Riverside Scene At Qingming Festival - 清明上河图
by Qiu Ying of the Ming Dynasty

Silk Scroll Colors Filled in Sketches Hand Scroll Longtitudinal 31 cm Horizontal 1346 cm 

Author / Editor: (明)仇英 绘 (Ming-Dynastie) Jiu Ying (Künstler)
ISBN: 978-7-80663-624-4, 9787806636244
Cathay Book Shop - 中国书店
Language: bilingual Chinese-English

Qiu Ying, was born in Zhengde’s year or late Hongzhi’s year of the Ming Dynasty, and died in the 31st year of Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty (1552). His alternative name was Shizhou and he styled himself as Shifu or Shifu. He was of a native of Taicang, Jiangsu province, and later moved to Wuxian County of Jiangsu province (Suzhou today). Qiu Ying was neither a descendant of an eminent family nor a son of a scholarly family. His childhood was not one cultivated among celebrities or gentlemen, and he had no experience of a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations. He was obliged to discontinue his studies as a boy and once practiced as lacquer man. As far as his lot and experience were concerned, it seemed that Qiu Ying was not qualified to be ranked among the “Four Famous Artists of Ming Dynasty” together with Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming and Tang Yin; however, after we had a review of the works he left, we would feeld that he was fully deserved such an honor. Qiu Ying’s A Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival is an imitation of A Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan of the Northern Song Dynasty. Zhang Zeduan’s A Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival is an immortal masterpiece, an art treasure in China’s art history. It is a painting reflecting the prosperity and lively scenes at the Qingming Festival in Bianliang (present-day Kaifeng in Henan Province), the capital city of the Northern Song Dynasty. Broad in scale and well composed, this painting depicts more than 550 people, more than 60 deomestic animals of various kinds, more than 20 wood boats, as well as many kinds of houses and buildings, carts and sedan chairs and etc. The rich content in this painting is rare in the paintings from the previous dynasties. However, what is hard to come by and particularly valuable is that every figure, scene and detail are reasonably arranged and well composed, complicated and diverse but not in disorder. Undoubtedly all the later imitators will find it a difficult and huge project to imitate it. Qiu Ying’s A Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival, comparing with Zhang Zeduan’s, is actually a work of his own creation, for it has assumed considerably great variations in structure, circumstances and artistic features, in other words, it has made significant changes and improvements to Zhang Zeduan’s A Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival. As described in the painting, Suzhou, named Wu in ancient times, was the capital of Wu Kingdom early in the Spring and Autumn Period. The painter begins the painting from the scene of the suburban area of Suzhou along the waterway, and then paints through Hong Bridge to the city access and finally the western suburban area. He was finished at a scene of overwater pavilions. The whole painting is 9.8 meters long, two times longer than the one painted by Zhang Zeduan, and the painting has the customs, features and human activities in Suzhou city and the South of Ming Dynasty more than 400 years ago loom large in front of the audience. There are mountains, cities, streets, bridges, rivers, piers, passersby, shops, boats, drama platforms, parade grounds, and also there are scenes such as wedding, banquet, gathering, farmland working, performance, dealing, fishing, fortune-telling and the like. This is true reappearance of Suzhou as the economic and cultural center of the Southeast China. The painter makes fully use of the characteristics of the dispersedly points perspective of the Chinese painting, utilizing the organic combination of highlighted scenery to deduce a lively drama without sound. The center of the volume is the prosperous street spots of Suzhou, the painter starts to describe the quiet village, which is similar in essence to the structure of A Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festivalby Zhang Zeduan of Northern Song Dynasty. The whole volume is naturally sectioned by mountains, river, ramparts and bridges. Its structure not only reflects the real physical geography and environment of Suzhou, but also blends the innovative conception of the painter. Furthermore, the painter has unique ideas for design of scenes and treatment of the details. 2,2000 people described in the picutre, including men and women, the old and the young, the four callings. You can tell the identity of each one of them by their action, expression, clothes and tools with no duplication. The simple and strong clothes lines reflects the action of figures through the density and turns of the lines, and are dotted with different colors in accordance with the identity, age and sex of figures. The locations of the buildings are skilfully arranged. There are many kinds of buildings, such as official departments, shops, firms, platforms and towers. The painter uses the combination of far and near, large and small, virtual and facture expression techniques, which clearly reflects the style and features of the city at that moment and on basis of which the painter can easily arrange certain scenes with certain kinds of people. The ramparts are reflected by realism techniques with clear description of their sunny-side and shaded-side, front and back transitions. … Qiu Ying, poorly-born but talented representative of Chinese ancient professional painters, creates A Riverside Scene at the Qingming Festival which truly reflects the customs, features and human activities of Suzhou four hundred years ago, creates varieties of artistic images and shows omnipotent realism techniques. It is not only a gigantic masterpiece of genre painting marking the transition of Chinese painting history, but also a historic painting with precious value on academic research. Judging from the style reflected by the painting, it is created when Qiu Ying was about more than 40 years old, living as a guest in the residence of Xiang Yuanbian.

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