|Huang Shan, Yellow Mountain, China|
Books on art history tell me that landscape painting as a distinctive style first appeared in Europe in the 1500's. The Chinese have a much longer history of painting landscapes. Several landscape paintings from the 11th century survive and literary sources refer to earlier works. Here are links to two 11th century examples: Guo Xi Early Spring (1072) and Fan Kuan (10th-early 11th C), Travelers Among Mountains and Streams (scroll down).
|Chinese landscape painting|
More familiar American and European landscapes are done in bright oil paint. (links to American landscape painters, and English landscape painters, Constable, for example).
The shapes of the rocks, mountains and trees in traditional Chinese landscape painting seem odd to an American eye. Clouds or fog fill parts of the pictures, adding to the dream-like quality.
When you look at Chinese landscape paintings with an eye used to seeing North American landscapes, it is easy to react in disbelief--"oh really?" The landscapes look imaginary.
|Chinese landscape painting |
|cliffs, Huang Shan|
note tree half way down on left for scale
Huang Shan, Yellow Mountain (top of page and above) is an important Chinese destination but not a major stop for international tourists. It is dramatically craggy and can be very foggy.
|fog on rice terraces, Longsheng, China|
|Li River, Guilin|
|Li River, Guilin, China|
|West Lake, Hangzhou, China|
To someone who grew up in Guilin, China, North American or European landscapes must look exotic.
Whatever your ordinary is, go see exotic landscapes!
Comments and corrections welcome.
Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist
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