An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yunyan guoyan lu 雲煙過眼錄

May 3, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Yunyan guoyan lu 雲煙過眼錄 "Clouds and mist passing before one's eyes" is a book on painting written during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) by Zhou Mi 周密 (1232-1298), courtesy name Gongqin 公謹, style Caochuang 草窗, from Wuxing 吳興 (present-day Huzhou 湖州, Zhejiang).

It is the first book examining paintings of a private collection, but also refers to artworks in the imperial collection of the time, the Imperial Archives (Bige 祕閣 or Mige 秘閣). The title is derived from a phrase in Su Shi's 蘇軾 (1037-1101) Baohuitang ji 寶繪堂記. The book was finished in 1296 and consists of 2 juan. It discusses the artworks of 43 painters, and for some of them, Zhou Mi also talks about the provenance, which can be seen, for instance, by the seals applied to them (yinji 印記) or notes (ti-ba 題跋). This information is important because several artworks described by Zhou (or copies of them) have survived until today. Concerning the imperial collection, the book of Zhou is a source for the practice of acquisition and storing artworks under great collectors like Emperor Huizong 宋徽宗 (r. 1100-1125) or Gaozong 宋高宗 (r. 1127-1162).

Zhou's book was revised and enlarged by Tang Yunmo 湯允謨 to the book Yunyan guoyan xulu 雲煙過眼續錄 (also called Yunyan guoyan lu xulu 雲煙過眼錄續錄 or Yunyan guoyan lu xuji 雲煙過眼錄續集), with a length of 4 juan. The first version is included in the series Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, Shiwanjuanlou congshu 十萬卷樓叢書 and Meishu congshu 美術叢書. The sequel of Yang Yunmo is seen in the series Baoyantang miji 寶顏堂秘笈, Qijinzhai congshu 奇晉齋叢書, Shiwanjuanlou congshu, Congshu jicheng chubian and Meishu congshu.

The book has been translated into English by Ankeney Weitz (2002), Zhou Mi's Records of Clouds and Mist Passing Before One's Eyes (Leiden: Brill).

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Duan Ying 段瑩 (2017a). "Yunyan guoyan lu zhong de Song Gaozong shoucang 《雲煙過眼錄》中的宋高宗收藏", Zijincheng 紫禁城, 2017 (11): 38-71.
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