An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhenguan gongsi huashi 貞觀公私畫史

Mar 2, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhenguan gongsi huashi 貞觀公私畫史, also called Zhenguan gongsi hualu 貞觀公私畫錄, or Gongsi hualu 公私畫錄 for short, is a history of painting written during the early Tang period 唐 (618-907) by Pei Xiaoxuan 裴孝源 (fl. 639). He held the offices of drafter in the Imperial Secretariat (zhongshu sheren 中書舍人), and then that of ministerial director in the Ministry of Personnel (libu yuanwailang 吏部員外郎). Pei's book Huapinlu 畫品錄 on the ranking of quality in painting is lost.

In the preface of his short book, Pei writes that Li Yuanchang 李元昌 (619-643), the Prince of Han 漢, who was very fond of painting, asked him to write a book about the history of this art, and also to rate famous paintings and the skills of famous artists. The author explains that the book shall refer to the paintings of Cao Mao 曹髦 (r. 254-260 CE) and through the centuries to those stored in the imperial library (mifu 秘府) and of various monasteries of the then-present time. He points at no less than 298 individual painting scrolls and 47 mural paintings. Yet in fact, the book just includes objects that had once been part of the palace collection of the Sui dynasty 隋 (581-618), and the greatest part of scrolls and mural paintings listed was not created during the Tang era, but somewhat earlier. The earliest painter mentioned was Lu Tanwei 陸探微 (d. 485) from the Liu-Song dynasty 劉宋 (420-479). The number of scrolls dealt with in the book is also somewhat lower (289) than announced in the preface. Similar mistakes in addition happen throughout the book.

The arrangement of the text, however, is very clear and consistent. The author always mentions the title of a book first, and then the name of the artist. Artworks are arranged according to quality. Whenever they had been part of the art collection of the Liang dynasty 梁 (502-557), the title of the catalogue Taiqing mu 太清目 (now lost) is given.

The Gongsi hualu was called the "ancestor of books for conoisseurs and collectors" (jiancangjia zhi zuben 鑒藏家之祖本). The text is included in the series Wangshi shuhua yuan 王氏書畫苑, Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Xu baichuan xuehai 續百川學海, Shuofu 說郛, Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Meishu congshu 美術叢書 and Huapin congshu 畫品叢書.

Quotation 1. Example from the Zhenguan gongsi huashi 貞觀公私畫史
明帝像,宋景和像,豫章王像,建平王像,江夏王像,零陵王像,王太宰像,羊玄保像,江智淵像,顧慶像(《梁太清目》所無),孫高麗像,孝武功臣像,勛臣像。 Portrait of Emperor Ming, Portrait of Song Jinghe, Portrait of the Prince of Yuzhang, Portrait of the Prince of Jianping, Portrait of the Prince of Jiangxia, Portrait of the Prince of Lingling, Portrait of Counsellor Wang, Portrait of Yang Xuanbao, Portrait of Jiang Zhiyuan, Portrait of Gu Qing (not in the Liang palace catalogue), Portrait of Sun Gaoli, Portait of the Meritorious Servants of Emperor Xiaowu, Portrait of the Laudable Servants.
右十三卷是陸探微真跡,隋朝官本。 These 13 scrolls were painted by Lu Tanwei, publicly owned by the Sui palace.
建安山陽二王像 沈曇慶醉像 麻超之徐僧寶像(《梁太清目》中無)靈臺寺瑾統像 毛詩新臺圖 蔡姬蕩舟圖(《梁太清目》中無)劉亮騧馬圖 高麗赭白馬圖 蟬雀圖 鬥鴨圖(《梁太清目》中無)獼猴圖。 Portrait of the Two Princes Jian'an and Shanyang, Portrait of Shen Tanqing drunk, Portrait of Ma Chaozhi and Xu Sengbao [or Ma Chaozhi's portrait of Xu Sengbao] (not in the Liang palace catalogue), Portrait of Jintong of Lingtai Monastery, Painting of the New Terrace in the Book of Songs, Image of Consort Cai Rocking the Boat (not in the Liang palace catalogue), Image of Liu Liang's Piebald Horse, Image of Korean Brown-White Horses, Image of Cicada and Sparrow, Image of Fighting Drakes (not in the Liang palace catalogue), Image of Macaques.
右十二卷並摹寫本,非陸真跡,與前十三卷共二十五卷,題作陸探微畫,隋朝官本,亦有梁陳題記。 These 12 scrolls are copies, not genuine paintings by Lu. Together 25 scrolls titled "works by Lu Tanwei", publicly owned by the Sui palace, also called [paintings of] the Liang and Chen periods.
Chen Chiyu 陳池瑜 (2022). "Tangdai huihua yishu shixue guankui: Yi Houhualu, Zhenguan gongsi huashi, Tangchao minghua lu wei li 唐代繪畫藝術史學管窺——以《後畫錄》 《貞觀公私畫史》 《唐朝名畫錄》為例", Yishu baijia 藝術百家, 2022 (3): 11-19+27.
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文郁, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1795.
Tao Mingjun 陶明君, ed. (1993). Zhongguo hualun cidian 中國畫論辭典 (Changsha: Hunan chubanshe), 286.
Wu Feng 吳楓, ed. (1987). Jianming Zhongguo guji cidian 簡明中國古籍辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 318.
Zhao Lizhong 趙力忠 (1993). "Zhenguan gongsi huashi 貞觀公私畫史", in Ru Xin 汝信, ed. Shijie baike zhuzuo cidian 世界百科著作辭典 (Beijing: Zhongguo gongren chubanshe), 355.