ART H 311
Introduces the role of painting in the history of Imperial China from the fourth to the seventeenth century. Topics for reading and discussion include political forces, regional geography, social structure, gender, traditional philosophies, and religious and spiritual influences.
This is a chronological survey of the arts produced during China’s imperial period, from the third century BC down to the eighteenth century AD. For the early imperial era of the Qin and Han dynasties our source is chiefly tombs belonging to high-ranking aristocrats, whose luxury burial goods include bronze, jade, silk, and lacquer. Pictorial art was established as an art form with royal patronage, but we can only get an idea of what it might have looked like from local imitations. The collapse of the Han empire saw the introduction of Buddhism from Central Asia, the pictorial art and sculpture of which transformed the orientation of Chinese art during the period of disunity. Both Buddhist art and secular art reached a new height following the reunification of China by the Sui and Tang dynasties, but the state prosecution of Buddhism in the mid-ninth century and the eventual collapse of the Tang empire sent Buddhist art into a long decline. For the succeeding Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties the most innovative art forms are painting and calligraphy, the focus of the second half of our survey.
Student learning goals
Understand artists' visual thinking.
Grasp major development of Chinese painting and Buddhist art.
Develop skills of writing analytical descriptions.
General method of instruction
No background in art history or Chinese history is assumed.
Class assignments and grading
Weekly readings (about 50 pages, mostly on Catalyst) and one short paper (4-6 pages) on a painting. You have the option to get writing credits if you submit three drafts.
Midterm 30%, final 30%, and final paper 40&.