Home > Free Essays > History > Asia > Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style

Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Apr 23rd, 2019

The representatives of oriental cultures have always been known for their incredible ability to combine an agile political mind and a heart of a true artist; and, needless to say, the Emperor Huizong was no exception.

Back in the Early Middle Ages, when Europe was only trying to have their feet on the ground and at the same time was making careful attempts to introduce its artists, in China, the Emperor himself set the course for the Chinese culture, devoting hours to calligraphy, collecting and cognizing the wonders of art.

Although the political career of Huizong ended in the most deplorable way possible (Ebrey 149), ending in his retreat and the death of his own son, managed to contribute to the Chinese culture in general and to the development of Chinese painting in particular.

Speaking of the style in which the emperor painted, one must mention that Huizong did not want to copy already existing ones and preferred to work on his own approach towards depicting still life.

Called further on “literati,” the given painting style survived several major changes in the Chinese art and has left a noticeable trace in the Chinese culture.

It is also quite remarkable that Huizong drew the line between being an artist and expressing his own ideas and feelings with the help of literati style, and being the art connoisseur and evaluating already existing artworks.

As the existing records show, “It makes sense that as an artist, Huizong would be more closely aligned with literati practices, while he might remain more distant from them when acting as a ruler reviewing the painted replicas of his prized possessions” (Knechtges and Vance 140).

The given evidence also shows in a very graphic way that the emperor did not focus on a single style and was very open-minded when it came to evaluating the paintings that were done in a style other than the literati one.

Since the above-mentioned might be considered the mark of Huizong as an art connoisseur, not the creator of art, however, it is necessary to re-evaluate Huizong’s influence on the Chinese art.

Indeed, on the one hand, the above-mentioned allows to qualify Huizong as a connoisseur rather as a creator When assessing the influence that the emperor had on painting as an art form, the proponents of posing emperor as a connoisseur, however, have to concede – the existing evidence shows that Huizong’s artworks did not change the landscape of the Chinese art:

[…] Even if we acknowledge some validity to traditional characterization of a sizable proportion of Academy paintings as being at odds with literati values (for their ornamental appearance, their reliance upon color, their verisimilitude, etc.), these are not necessarily representative of the style cultivated by Huizong and such aristocratic painters as Zhao Lingbi and Zhao Shilei. (Knechtges and Vance 141)

Being rather the author of numerous paintings and poems than the man who defined the style and tendencies of the Chinese art, Huizong is definitely rather a creator of the Chinese art than its connoisseur and the man who defined the further tendencies in Chinese painting. Although it would be wrong to diminish Huizong’s vast knowledge of Chinese painting, poetry and calligraphy, it is still necessary to acknowledge him as the man who exercised self-expression in art.

It would be wrong, however, to think that the Emperor could afford devoting a great chunk of his life to painting just for the sake of art itself; as the existing records show, Huizong was trying to depict the birds and animals that were under the threat of extinction.

Taking long strolls in his garden, the emperor had the chance of watching the rare species to portray them in his unique manner. Therefore, it can be considered that Huizong was also one of the first emperors to fill art with purpose and make it serve the greater good.

Modern art connoisseurs evaluate Huizong’s contribution to art as a peculiar introduction into Chinese vision of still life: “The style preferred by Emperor Huizong was intimate and decorative as seen from the bird-and-flower still-life paintings that he created” (Wang 48).

The fact that art could also be used for a logical purpose was a true revelation; Huizong opened a new page of the Chinese history of art with his paintings. To top it all, Huizong built a school of painting, where the students could learn to paint in the style that Huizong had been working on for his entire life.

As a result, an entire art movement, literati painting, was organized to promote Huizong’s innovations into the Chinese realm of painting (Knechtges and Vance 140). However, birds were not the only thing that entranced Huizong as an object for his painting; surprisingly enough, the emperor also enjoyed painting tea trees (Wang 104) and making all sorts of tea paintings.

The aforementioned makes one wonder whether the emperor could be described as a connoisseur or a creator of such art forms as paintings. Certainly, it took a lot of effort and skill to create a painting that could not only satisfy one’s hunger for artistic imagery, but also convey a specific message to the audience – in the given case, the message to keep the riches of nature intact.

On the other hand, the skills that would go into the creation of such art forms should rather be defined as the ones of a connoisseur of painting and wildlife than the creator of art works. The dilemma concerning whether Huizong should be defined as the connoisseur of painting or the creator of one is, therefore, to be solved.

Still, when thinking of what Huizong used his skills of an artist for, one must admit that the emperor could be defined as the creator of art.

According to the existing sources, Huizong did not pursue solely the goal of cognizing every single method of painting; quite on the contrary, he seemed to be the adept of literati style, while a connoisseur would explore every single genre in particular.

In addition, it seems that Huizong tried to find the best means of self-expression, like a true creator, while for a connoisseur, self-expression is usually not the key objective (Knechtges and Vance).

Along with his amazing talent of painting, Huizong should also be remembered for his incredible calligraphy, which appears on his paintings as well. The idea that these two arts can coexist in one painting might be rather surprising for the European audience.

The Chinese, however, know perfectly well that these two walk hand in hand, and that only together, they can help one produce a real work of art: “The tradition of ‘three perfections’ – painting, calligraphy and poetry – originated from the introduction of poetic inscriptions on […] painted hanging scrolls and handscrolls” (Wang 52).

However, of all his passions, painting definitely was Huizong’s main asset apart from his political skills; even though the emperor also engaged into collecting and calligraphy, he enjoyed depicting still life the most.

Even though the arts of calligraphy, poetry and painting can be considered completely separate genres, emperor Huizong has paid equal amount of attention towards perfecting his skills in each of these arts. Therefore, it would be reasonable to mention the relation between calligraphy and poetry in Huizong’s life and the way the former influenced the latter.

What might seem not quite compatible for the people of a different cultural background were integral components of art as a whole for Huizong. Therefore, to view Huizong as a creator, one must take a glance at his contribution to the Chinese culture as a poet.

Inspired by an already existing poetry style known as “ink-plum paintings,” Huizong actually started discovering his artistic talents only after he had come across the artworks by Chen Yuyi, a Chinese artist who further on was promoted to be Editorial Director in Huizong’s Palace Library, according to Knechtges and Vance’s research data (Knechtges and Vance 118).

Learning more about the art of painting and poetry, the emperor expanded his knowledge about their numerous aspects, which allowed him to become an ultimate connoisseur; in addition, Huizong also tried to apply the knowledge acquired with the help of his new friend into practice, which turned him into a creator of the Chinese art.

Not only did Huizong expand the idea of the Chinese poetry, but also contributed his own works, such as Mountain Birds. The latter is a very peculiar specimen of emperor’s style, since it comprises all three arts that have been mentioned above – exquisite calligraphy, refined poetry and beautiful painting.

Miraculously, even the lines of the poem look like an integral part of the painting, since, merging with the elements of the painting, the strokes and parts of hieroglyphs become an integral part of the picture. Thus, a poem takes a visual form and the artwork becomes three-dimensional.

Incorporating such elements as painting, a poem and calligraphy in his works, Huizong started a new era in the Chinese world of art. He showed the world that different kinds of art could be combined to produce a unique creation that people gasp in delight at.

Though the reign of Huizong was comparatively short and far not as successful as it could have been (Mote 207), there is no doubt that his contribution to the Chinese art of painting was incredible (Wilkinson 855).

Not only did he collect paintings and was in touch with the world of art, but also managed to contribute his own paintings to the Chinese culture thus, coining a new inspiring style of painting and offering a new vision of what art actually was.

Not only was he the author of a range of paintings and other artworks, but also the creator of a unique panting style and a man who changed the Chinese people’s perception of art for a couple of centuries.

Works Cited

Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Knechtges, David R. and Eugnen Vance. Rhetorics and Discourses of power in Court Culture: China, Europe and Japan. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2005. Print.

Mote, Frederick M. Imperial China: 900–1800. Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. Print.

Wang, Audrey. Chinese Antiquities: An Introduction to the Art Market. New York, NY: Ashgate Publishing, 2012. Print.

Wilkinson, Endymion Porter. Chinese History: A Manual. Harvard, MA: Harvard Yenching University Press, 2000 Print.

This essay on Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, April 23). Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emperor-huizong-of-song-and-his-art-of-painting-and-calligraphy-plying-the-brush-to-create-a-new-style-essay/

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, April 23). Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/emperor-huizong-of-song-and-his-art-of-painting-and-calligraphy-plying-the-brush-to-create-a-new-style-essay/

Work Cited

"Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style." IvyPanda, 23 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/emperor-huizong-of-song-and-his-art-of-painting-and-calligraphy-plying-the-brush-to-create-a-new-style-essay/.

1. IvyPanda. "Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style." April 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emperor-huizong-of-song-and-his-art-of-painting-and-calligraphy-plying-the-brush-to-create-a-new-style-essay/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style." April 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emperor-huizong-of-song-and-his-art-of-painting-and-calligraphy-plying-the-brush-to-create-a-new-style-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style." April 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/emperor-huizong-of-song-and-his-art-of-painting-and-calligraphy-plying-the-brush-to-create-a-new-style-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Emperor Huizong of Song and His Art of Painting and Calligraphy: Plying the Brush to Create a New Style'. 23 April.

Powered by CiteTotal, citation website
More related papers