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Chinese Literature
Xu huapin 續畫品 "Continued Classification of Painters"


Don't confuse this book with Li Sizhen's 李嗣真 book Xu huapin lu 續畫品錄.

The Xu huapin 續畫品 "Continued classification of painters", also called Hou huapin lu 後畫品錄 or Xu huapin lu 續畫品錄, is a critique on painters compiled by the Chen period 陳 (557-589) writer Yao Zui 姚最, of whose life practically nothing is known. He was influenced by Xie He's 謝赫 book Gu huapin lu 古畫品錄, but was not quite satisfied by He's arguments for his classification, especially of the overrating of Lu Tanwei 陸探微 and the underestimation of Gu Kaizhi 顧愷之. He therefore wrote a book to criticize Xie He's book, and to discuss later artists. The Xu huapin lu is arranged chronologically and not, as the Gu huapin lu, according to the six ranks that Xie He made use of. Yao's short book discusses the skills of 20 painters, beginning with Emperor Yuan of the Liang dynasty 梁元帝 (r. 552-554) and ending with Jie Qian 解倩. Most painters are discussed separately, but there are also paragraphs comparing two or three persons directly, like Xi Baojun 嵇寶均 and Nie Song 聶松, or the monks Shengzhen 僧珍 and Sengjue 僧覺. The book is therefore only divided into 16 paragraphs. Yao Zui also provides interesting information to the content of the paintings, like those of Emperor Yuan who loved to paint lotus or tripods. Some of these comments have also been added by later authors. The language of the Xu huapin lu is very elegant and refined and geared to the lyrical style of prose that was popular during that time. Yet on the other side, Yao Zui does not make greater contributions to the theory of painting. The book Lidai minghua ji 歷代名畫記 therefore critizises Yao Zui's book as too short and lacking substance.
The Xu huapin lu was first printed during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). It is included in the collectanea Huayuan 畫苑 (Wangshi shuhua yuan 王氏書畫苑), Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, Shuofu 說郛, Yanbei ouchao 硯北偶鈔, Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Meishu congshu 美術叢書, Congchu jicheng 叢書集成 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

There is another book with the title Xu huapin lu, attributed to the early Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar 李嗣真 Li Sizhen.


Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1794. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

Chinese literature according to the four-category system

August 24, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail