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Ren Yi, A miserable and shabby official, Hanging scroll, color on paper, 1888, Collection of Zhejiang Provincial Museum.

Ren Yi, A miserable and shabby official, Hanging scroll, color on paper, 1888, Collection of Zhejiang Provincial Museum.

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The story of China from the late Qing (1644-1911) to the early years of the Republic established in 1912 is one of Empire, wars within and without, great social and economic shifts and deep cultural transformations, particularly in art, culture and photography. A review of the relations between painting and photography in China reveals as much abou...

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... for example Sullivan and Murphy 1996, p. 12;Pan Lynn 2008. 87 Clunas 1997, p. 171. In Suanhan Weixiang 酸寒尉像 (A Miserable and Shabby Official) (Fig. 10) (1888) his friend and colleague Wu Changshi 吴昌砚 (1844-1927, who was briefly serving in local government, was portrayed almost in a caricature, an accurate representation of the inner discomfort felt in being forced to wear the uniform with the rank insignia. 88 Furthermore "the implied ground 88 Wu Changshi said: "I knew my pathetic ...

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During the Tokugawa Period (also known as the Edo Period, 1603-1868), the Japanese government adopted a political strategy of a drastic isolation, known as sakoku (“the chained country”). By 1641, the port of Nagasaki (Kyūshū) was the only port open to Chinese and Dutch ships, and the city was undergoing a great transformation – from a small fishermen shore to an important cultural and artistic centre. At least until 1720, Dutch merchants, just like the Portuguese and Spanish missionaries (called nanbanjin, “southern barbarians”) in the 16th century, had largely contributed to the spread of the natural sciences and Western art in Japan. But while missionaries used art, science, and technology as tools to arouse the Japanese élites’ interest in Christian religion, Dutch merchants were mostly motivated by commercial interests. The prominent role of Nagasaki was a significant step in the reconstruction of Japanese painting tradition. On one hand, the commercial activity in the port of Nagasaki facilitated the spread of Western knowledge in Japan; on the other hand, Japanese people were particularly interested in the millenarian Chinese culture. The doctrine of Neo-Confucianism (Song-Ming lixue), in fact, was adopted as an official ideology, becoming the philosophical base for the ethical code of the samurai, as well as a useful theoretical support to the political order upheld by the Tokugawa system. Both Dutch and Chinese traders produced different cultural movements that finally reached the Nagasaki schools of painting (Nagasakiha kaiga). Nagasaki schools of painting were particularly active between the 17th and 19th century. Their main purpose was to reproduce and study the styles of painting that appeared in Nagasaki. Scholar Iwasaki Yoshikazu differentiates five main schools, then puts the five schools together in three main categories. Some scholars also listed other schools. I shall argue that the ‘Nagasaki school’ should be intended as a broad term including not only the schools’ production but also the multiple factors that are directly or indirectly linked to the city and that occurred in the development of a specific style of painting. Thanks to the development of a wide variety of drawing techniques, painting styles, and methodologies in applying ink and colours, Nagasaki artists developed in Japan an interesting artistic production that was inspired to cross-reference influences coming from Europe and China