The Landscape Painting of China:
Musings of a Journeyman

Harrie A. Vanderstappen, Edited by Roger E. Covey

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"In an age when art history is too much dominated by proponents of theoretical, non-visual approaches to the works of art, really good examples of visual approaches are in short supply, and welcome. The Landscape Painting of China is a valuable visual/art-historical treatment of early Chinese painting, through the mid-seventeenth century and the Ming dynasty."--James Cahill, author of Pictures for Use and Pleasure: Vernacular Painting in High Qing China

"Revisits the significant stylistic study of Chinese painting, which has long been overdue."--Ling-en Lu, assistant curator of Early Chinese Art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City

"Immediate, lively, engaging, and challenging, this work offers a tutorial in Chinese landscape painting that will guide the reader to see and understand this most subtle and expressive art form."--Amy McNair, author of Donors of Longmen: Faith, Politics, and Patronage in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Sculpture

Chinese landscape painting is not just one of the great arts of China; it is one of the greatest products of world civilization. It has the power to transport us to another time and place and encourages us to re-think our notions of the natural world and our relationship to it.

The Landscape Painting of China: Musings of a Journeyman offers a stunning demonstration of the power of visual-based methodologies in the examination of great art. In it, Chinese landscape painting is explored from the emergence of monumental landscape painting in the ninth century through the artistic transformations of the early seventeenth century. The leading masters--everyone from Jing Hao to Dong Qichang and Chen Hongshou--and the major monuments are subjected to a searching analysis, grounded in detailed observation and a mastery of both the traditional Chinese written source material and contemporary Western, Japanese, and Chinese scholarship.

Written by the late Professor Harrie Vanderstappen, a great twentieth-century scholar of Chinese art and one of its keenest "eyes," The Landscape Painting of China is the result of a lifetime of deep study, detailed visual analysis, and profound thinking. Father Vanderstappen had unique training: initially in Europe prior to World War II, then studying Chinese art and culture first-hand in Beijing prior to the Communist Revolution. He studied at the University of Chicago, under one of the greatest of the first generation of Asian art historians, Ludwig Bachhofer. After receiving his PhD in art history in 1955, Vanderstappen travelled to Japan, where he learned Japanese, examined Chinese paintings, and worked with many of the great postwar Japanese scholars. Upon his return to the University of Chicago in 1959, he worked as Bachhofer's successor, teaching generations of graduate students how to see. He also published important works on Chinese painting and sculpture, as well as a comprehensive book-length bibliography of Western scholarship on Chinese art and archaeology. All of his teachings were informed by an exceptionally broad and deep knowledge of cultural and historical contexts, to which his outstanding language skills gave him access.

Filled with revelatory insights into the origin and purposes of Chinese landscape painting, this gloriously illustrated volume boasts more than 240 full-color plates, including a great many detailed images that bring Professor Vanderstappen's detailed visual analysis to life. The graphic elements that make up the great landscape painting of China have never been made so accessible to a Western audience. In terms of its broad scope and visual analytic insight, no single-author book on Chinese painting like this has been published in many decades.

Father Harrie A. Vanderstappen (1921-2007) was for over 30 years professor of art history at the University of Chicago, where he taught Chinese and Asian art history. A life-long member of the Society of the Divine Word, a global Catholic missionary order, he was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1945. In addition to his teaching and scholarly work, he spent decades in Chicago ministering to the poor and needy. Roger E. Covey (1954-2013), president of the Tang Research Foundation, was an independent scholar whose academic work has been published in China, the United States, and Europe.

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Mary Ellen LoPresti Award - 2014

A useful volume for students and general readers….Recommended.

The pleasure of this book, and its importance, lie the descriptions of individual paintings, all of which can be read with profit by even the most seasoned students of Chinese landscape painting. Works that have been extensively discussed by other scholars yield to Vanderstappen’s probing eye new details and new pictorial resonances.
--Journal of Chinese Studies

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