An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xuanhe huapu 宣和畫譜

Sep 3, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Xuanhe huapu 宣和畫譜 "Notes on paintings from the Xuanhe reign" is a treatise on the critique of paintings written during the Xuanhe reign-period (1119-1125) of Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗 (r. 1100-1125) of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279).

The book, whose author is not known, describes 6,396 paintings by 230 masters owned by the palace treasury (neifu 內府). The oldest paintings dated from the Wei 曹魏 (220-265) and Jin 晉 (265-420) periods. The book of 20 juan length is divided into 10 chapters covering ten different painting genres or objects. The book Yunlu manchao 雲麓漫鈔 by Zhao Yanwei 趙彥衛 (jinshi degree 1163) speaks of only six chapters, namely those of Buddhist and Daoist persons, portraits, landscape painting, birds and beasts, bamboo and flowers, and buildings and trees. All chapters are introduced by a short preface, and the paintings are arranged chronologically and rated according to artistic quality. For each master, a short biography is provided and an assessment of his strengths.

The book tries to cover all aspects of painting and the various masters through the ages and is therefore in many places contradictory and confuse, like. Wang Kentang 王肯堂 (Wang Shiyuan 王士元), for instance, is in one part of the book said to have learned from the teachers of many different genres, while another chapters criticizes him as an irrelevant person. For this reason the Xuanhe huapu can only partially be used as a valuable source for the history of painters and their qualities, but at least it is an important list of paintings owned by the palace treasury.

A list and description of calligraphies in the imperial palace collection is included in the book Xuanhe shupu 宣和書譜.

The Xuanhe huapu is included in the series Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Xuejin taoyuan 學津討原, Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Table 1. Contents of the Xuanhe huapu 宣和畫譜
1 道釋門 Daoist and Buddhist persons
2 人物門 Portraits
3 宮室門 Palaces
4 番族門 Barbarians
5 龍魚門 Dragons and fishes
6 山水門 Landscapes
7 鳥獸門 Birds and beasts
8 花木門 Flowers and trees
9 墨竹門 Painting bamboo
10 蔬果門 Vegetables and fruits
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Gao Pengfei 郜鵬飛 (2022). "Cong Xuanhe huapu kann tang-Song huaniao hua de fazhan 從《宣和畫譜》看唐宋花鳥畫的發展", Mei yu shidai 美與時代, 2022 (2): 19-21.
Han Yanbing 韓延兵 (2018). "Xuanhe huapu bianzuan yanjiu 《宣和畫譜》編纂研究", Yishu xuebao 藝術學報, 2018 (3): 12-19.
Jiang Wei 蔣煒, Jiang Jianlong 江建隆, Wang Weihua 王維華 (2010). "Xuanhe huapu zuozhe kaozheng 《宣和畫譜》作者考證", Shuhua shijie 書畫世界, 2010 (5): 73-74.
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