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Chinese Painting by Mario Bussagli

By Mario Bussagli

Publication by means of Bussagli, Mario

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Hence the custom among painters and poets of evoking seasons, points of light, moments in time, meteors, all by means of a simple detail, one that would in fact be lost in a gigantic picture but is isolated by the artist because it epitomises the essence of the whole scene. In Chinese painting the importance assumed by nature meant that artists were not interested in the human body and avoided the nude, so much so that in the whole of Chinese art the only exceptions are the little female statues used for medical diagnosis.

Thus painting served both as a historical and as a day-to-day record, fulfilling the task both of commemoration (with highly imaginative characterisa- 55 m 7 Landscape with Autumn Colours. Sung dynasty. National Palace and Central Museunn Collections, Taichung (Taiwan; Chao Po-chu (1 1 20-1 1 82) (attributed, but perhaps 12th-century copy of the original). Palaces of Han. Sung dynasty. National Palace and Central Museum Collections, Taichung (Taiwan).

With the exception of two fragments on silk from a tomb at Ch'ang-sha in Hunan (southern central China) dating from about the 5rd century bc, all the other remains date from after the beginning of the Christian era. The fragments from Ch'ang-sha show that technically painting was already fully developed. The figures on the lacquered box preserved at Pyongyang in Korea give us an idea of the expressive characterisation used by painters at the end of the ist century ad in their historical and didactic compositions.

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