Dong Qichang, in the Shade of Summer Trees, 17th Century, Ming Dynasty

1044 words 5 pages
Lindsay David
Art History 6D
3 June 2008

Dong Qichang, In the Shade of Summer Trees, 17th century, Ming Dynasty

This painting is from the Ming Dynasty, and very clearly depicts and captures the essence of The Southern School, or Literati painters. The first thing to note is the overall composition of the painting. First and foremost it is a landscape painting. The colors are very monochrome; the space is stretched to reveal a depth to the painting that the eye cannot capture; and there is stillness to the art that embraces nature and serenity of life. In the right-hand corner of the painting there is calligraphy. The calligraphy lacks the precision, but is very clear in its form, much like the depiction within the painting
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This is also capturing a single moment in time, and the painting serves as the record for a past event that will never be again, and captures emotions distinct to that moment, that will probably never be felt in the same way again. We can see the instantaneous placement of the cloud creating a fog and with it an illusion of something that is unknown and mysterious. This moment is captured so expertly before the fog can be burned away, or hidden by night, or pushed away with the wind. There is also emptiness in the painting. I did not realize this until I started to try to do a landscape drawing of my own. While the emptiness lacks any objects, it seems to have, or be, purposeful in the painting. It represents something, and is a source to the elements in the painting. It could be the wind that is moving the trees, or gravity that is causing the water to fall. The empty part of the picture seems to hold significance to the individual perspective and time of the painting. The artist’s personal feelings and reasoning once again captured and recorded in the painting. All of this being said, the question of how much of the painting is natural and how much of the painting is artifice arises. I think that the best way to tackle this question is from the largest perspective, and narrowing thereafter. That which the painting references is natural, and that which is within the painting is natural, but the

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