A glory known as the Song Dynasty art

I talk about the Song Dynasty (960-1279) all the time – I even said that if one day time travel becomes a reality, the period I would like to visit would be Song (if I can still come back that is). The Song Dynasty produced a huge supply of excellent artists who pushed the oriental aesthetics to a peak so high that no other periods could reach.

Flower-Bird painting by Song Hui Zong

This period of time follows the great Tang Dynasty, though militarily weaker, the people in charge were rather into art, which lead the entire country into such an artistic pursuit. Civilians were known to be able to rent art supplies and they would purchase or make artistic decorations for the holidays. The palace too took art very seriously, and it was during this time that the training and patronage of outstanding artists became official: the Imperial Painting Academy was built. This academy has Song Hui Zong to thank in fact, who not only was an Emperor but also an excellent artist and art collector.

During this period the study of painting was further categorized into numerous detailed branches; it was also in this period where the landscape painting finally eclipsed figure painting. The presentation of an artwork bloomed into so many brilliant styles too, there were handscrolls, hanging scrolls, album leaves, and many more.

A study of Song painting

The Song Dynasty could be similar to the Renaissance in that humanity started to wake up, where artists started to explore beyond the shape of an object but to inject their emotions into the outside natural world. The focus of this period of time is nature: a flower, a bird, a river… all these images tell us how much the artists love life, and how loaded these simple images are with emotions: we could read the desire for freedom, security and tranquility from each of the artworks.

“The representation of nature not merely as pretty scenery but with a moral message of self-cultivation has continued to inspire Chinese artists down to the present day.”

– The Chinese Art Book
Song Dynasty Collection of Classic Paintings

We will talk about some key Song Dynasty painters in the coming posts, but today I would like to introduce you to a new set of books that has just arrived in our shop (see image above). This set of books contains over 400 classic paintings from the Song Dynasty of 3 categories: flower-bird, landscape, and figure painting. I like these books also because the paintings are close to their real sizes, making the books collectable as well as a wonderful manual to study from.

So if you desire to learn the oriental painting, do not miss out on these artworks of the Song Dynasty! Set the right path and you can achieve great height!

Song Dynasty Paintings

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