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36) Chao Meng-fu. Autumn Colors on the Ch'iao and Hua Mountains. Handscroll; ink and color on paper. Yfian dynasty, 1296. This short handscroll is Chao's surviving masterpiece and one of the most famous paintings in Chinese art history. The painting represents Chao's impressionistic rendering of the scenery near the hometown in Shantung province of Chao's friend, Chou Mi; and the painting was done for Chou after Chao returned from a trip North in 1296. The two mountains (the conical Mount Hua is shown in this slide) are in fact very far apart in real geography, but both were well-known landmarks of the area. Stylistically, the painting represents the fruition of earlier attempts by Ch'ien Hsiian, Chao's teacher, to revive the "blue and green" style of T'ang landscape painting. Like Ch'ien's Dwelling in the Floating Jade Mountains (No. 34 above), the direct inspiration goes back to Tung Yfian (No. 21 above). There is a studied lack of true perspective that in turn forces the observer to concentrate on the portrayal of individual forms and objects. There is, for example, no sky, and an indeterminate ground plane shifts from frame to frame throughout the scroll. Size relationships are distorted in the primitivist fashion first seen in Ch'ien Hsiian. The mood of the painting is bleak and represents a full-scale rejection of the warmth and romantic atmosphere of Southern Sung Academy painting as practiced by Ma Yiian and Hsia Kuei. One way to look at the painting is to consider that the brushwork is a extension of literati ink values to colored landscape painting. Earlier landscape painting used outline or contour lines to define shapes and then filled in these shapes with color (wash in T'ang; dots in Sung). Chao, however, uses dry bruslistrokes ("hairy" bruslistrokes as the Chinese call them) to make up the forms themselves, without outline, a technique we have already seen in the goat of No. 35 above. In a sense, Autumn Colors is a virtuoso repository of brushwork and is the culmination of the tendency of Ydan art, mention in No. 34 above, to use "mountain and water as media, to tackle the problem of creating a style. " Autumn Colors is a painting for other painters, and its new style had a profound effect on later Ydan art.

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