Richard Barnhart Lecture: “The Culture and Practice of Painting in Song China (960-1279)”

Richard Barnhart
“The Culture and Practice of Painting in Song China (960-1279)”
Annual Anita Glass Memorial Lecture
November 16
List 120

During the 300 years China was ruled by the Song emperors the art of painting reached heights of sophistication and accomplishment that mark the period forever as a golden age. Painting became a necessary companion of the fulfilled life in nearly all spheres of activity, from palace to temple, and continued to provide enrichment into the tomb. Barnhart explored the practice of Song painting and how that practice bears on questions of dating and attribution that continue to occupy him.

Particularly interesting are the beginning and the end of Song art, junctures that demonstrate the unique character of the period. Sculpture dominates the Tang and calligraphy inspires the Yuan. The rich illusion of space so fundamental to the identity of Song, when painting dominated the other arts, is examined within both the long tradition of illusionistic spectacles that were essential to imperial and religious practices in China and the evolving nature of painting itself, as independent professional painters achieved fame in every institution of traditional China.

Chinese art historian Richard Barnhart taught at Yale and Princeton for 33 years and is the author or co-author of numerous books, catalogs, and articles, including Wintry Forests, Old Trees (1972), Peach Blossom Spring (1983), Master of the Lotus Garden (1990), Painters of the Great Ming (1993), Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (1997), and “Alexander in China? – Questions for Chinese Archaeology” (2004). He now lives on San Juan Island in Puget Sound,
where he continues to write about Chinese art while also learning to paint the
landscape of the northwest.

This lecture was funded by the Anita Glass Memorial Fund.

Full Poster for Richard Barnhart Lecture