19) Fan K'uan (about 960-1130). Traveling amid Mountains and Streams. Hanging scroll. Ink and color on silk. Northern Sung. The painting, along with No. 20 below, are among the most famous of all Chinese paintings, and are the best examples of the Northern Sung "monumental" landscape style. Fan Kuan began as a student of Li Ch'eng but soon realized the limits of imitation, remarking, "My predecessor's method consisted of a direct apprehension of things in nature; here am I, learning from a man, which is not the equal of learning from the things themselves. But better than either of these methods is the way of learning from my own heart." These remarks contain the essence of Fan's philosophy of painting, a philosophy that was to remain at the center of later Chinese landscape painting: rather working direct from nature --painting actually observed scenes -- the true artist experiences nature until he is able to reproduce mentally and paint -- in his studio -- conjured images that capture the spirit of nature itself. The process is akin to meditation -- the artist paints a mentally constructed scene -- and may indeed have links to actual religious practice. Thus, this painting does not reproduce an actual '~scene" in China, but is Fan K'uan's expression of his feelings, what his "heart" tells him nature is like. Although intricate and complex in its details, the overall painting possesses a serene and heroic simplicity. Too small to be observed in this slide (but we will look at details in class) is the small figure of a human pilgrim -- probably a priest -- who makes his way across a bridge toward a temple at the lower right of the painting. The image of the human pilgrim paying homage to the mountain is symbolic of the human struggle for spiritual perfection, here objectivized in the majestic image of the mountain peak. The simple, yet solemn, aura of the painting thus assumes a religious significance.

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