An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Tuhua jianwen zhi 圖畫見聞志

Mar 7, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Tuhua jianwen zhi 圖畫見聞志 is a history of painting written during the Northern Song period 北宋 (960-1126) by Guo Ruoxu 郭若虛 (fl. 1071) from Taiyuan 太原, Shanxi. His father and grandfather were great collectors of ancient paintings, but their private collection was sold when Ruoxu was a young boy. Later on, he attempted to buy back the paintings.

The book of 6 juan length is mentioned in the bibliographical chapter of the statecraft encyclopaedia Wenxian tongkao 文獻通考, but with the name title Minghua jianwen zhi 名畫見聞志, while other book catalogues call it with the transmitted title. Guo's book is written as a sequel to Zhang Yanyuan's 張彥遠 (815-907) Lidai minghua ji 歷代名畫記, and thus explains the works of painters from the late Tang 唐 (618-907) to the early Song period. The first part, Xulun 敘論, lists books on painting, from Xie He's 謝赫 Gu huapin lu 古畫品錄 to Liu Daochun's 劉道醇 (c. 1028-1098) Benchao huaping 本朝畫評 (Songchao minghua ping 宋朝名畫評).

The main part of Guo's book are fascicles 2-4 that present an "art record" (ji yi 紀藝) of 291 painters through the centuries. It is interesting to see that Guo Ruoxu did take into consideration paintings of all genres, from portraits and landscape painting to images of flowers and birds. Juan 5 and 6 (Gushi shiyi 故事拾遺, Jinshi 近事) includes 27 important facts or stories (32 resp.) about individual painters.

Just like Zhang's Lidai minghua ji, the Tuhua jianwen zhi is an important source on the history of painting in ancient China. Guo quoted from older texts, but without providing references. Some sources can be reconstructed, like Guanghua xinji 廣畫新集, Jiangnan hualu 江南畫錄, Jiangnan hualu shiyi 江南畫錄拾遺, Guang Liangchao huamu 廣梁朝畫目 or Shengchao minghua ping 聖朝名畫評. As to those books that have nor survived the ages, Guo's quotations are the only surviving parts. Guo's rating of painters is influenced by their social position.

The text is included in the series Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Sibu congkan xubian 四部叢刊續編, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編. A modern, annotated edition was published 1986 by the Sichuan Meishu Chubanshe 四川美術出版社.

Quotation 1. On painting and moral virtues
嘗試論之。竊觀自古奇迹,多是軒冕才賢,巖穴上士。依仁遊藝,探賾鉤深,高雅之情,一寄於畫。人品既已高矣,氣韻不得不高;氣韻既已高矣,生動不得不至。所謂神之又神,而能精焉。凡畫必周氣韻,方號世珍。不爾雖竭巧思,止同眾工之事。雖曰畫,而非畫。 Let me make this clear: the great masterpieces of the past were created mostly by great scholars of high position, or by hermits living close to nature. Because they lived the lives of true men and sought relaxation in the arts, steeped themselves in them, this high thinking and elevation of spirit found expression in their paintings. The tone and atmosphere of the paintings was high because the character of the artist was high, and when the tone and atmosphere was high, the picture became full of life. As we say, such work is the top of the very best, and seems to capture the spirit of things. All paintings must have this rich, vital tone and atmosphere to be called a masterpiece. Otherwise, the most elaborate work will provide something similar to that of commercial artists. It is called painting, but is not.
Source: Lin 1967: 82.
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Yin Ziqi 尹子琪 (2018). "Tuhua jianwen zhi zhong de huihua fengge fenleiguan yanjiu 《圖畫見聞志》中的繪畫風格分類觀研究", Minzu yishu yanjiu 民族藝術研究, 2018 (3): 5-15.
Yin Ziqi 尹子琪 (2019). "Tuhua jianwen zhi zhong huihua lishi fazhanguan yanjiu 《圖畫見聞志》中繪畫歷史發展觀研究", Meishu yu sheji 美術與設計, 2019 (2): 7-11.
Zhang Jing 張晶 (2020a). "Qiyun fei shi yu yongbi deshi: Beisong Guo Ruoxu Tuhua jianwen zhi pingxi (1) “氣韵非師”與“用筆得失”——北宋郭若虛《圖畫見聞志》評析(一)", Mingzuo xinshang 名作欣賞, 2020 (19): 110-114.
Zhang Jing 張晶 (2020b). "Sajia shanshui ge kai huyong: Beisong Guo Ruoxu Tuhua jianwen zhi pingxi (2). “三家山水”各開户牖——北宋郭若虛《圖畫見聞志》評析(二)", Mingzuo xinshang 名作欣賞, 2020 (22): 113-117.
Zhang Jing 張晶 (2020). "Huang Xu ti yi ge shan zhong ming: Guo Ruoxu Tuhua jianwen zhi jiexi (zhi 3) 黃徐體異 各擅重名——郭若虛《圖畫見聞志》解析(之三)", Mingzuo xinshang 名作欣賞, 2020 (25): 116-119.
Zhang Nan 張楠, Lan Juan 蘭娟 (2014). "Guo Ruoxu de Tuhua jianwen zhi yu Songdai huihua chengjiu guanxi kaozheng 郭若虛的《圖畫見聞志》與宋代繪畫成就關係考證", Lantai shijie 蘭台世界, 2014 (17): 155-156.
Zhao Juan 趙娟 (2012). "Beisong shuhua jiancang yanjiu: Yi Tuhua jianwen zhi, Huashi wei li 北宋書畫鑒藏研究———以《圖畫見聞志》、《畫史》為例", Yishu baijia 藝術百家, 2012 (2): 190-192.
Zhao Luizhong 趙力忠 (1993). "Tuhua jianwen zhi 圖畫見聞志", in Ru Xin 汝信, ed. Shijie baike zhuzuo chubanshe 世界百科著作辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo gongren chubanshe), 356.
Zhao Xingyuan 趙星垣 (2012). "Quanmian de rujia biaozhun: Dui Tuhua jianwen zhi xuezuo tili chengyin de sikao 全面的儒家標準——對《圖畫見聞志》寫作體例成因的思考", Rongbaozhai 榮寶齋, 2012 (7): 82-93.
Zheng Xing 鄭星 (2018). "Lidai minghua ji yu Tuhua jianwen zhi zhi bijiao yanjiu 《歷代名畫記》與《圖畫見聞志》之比較研究", Mei yu shidai 美與時代, 2018 (1): 10-11.