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Authors: Riggs, Amy C.
Advisors: Silbergeld, Jerome
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Chinese art
Chinese painting
Chinese poetry
Cultural biography
Mou Yi
Xie Huilian
Subjects: Art history
Asian studies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is a close examination and a cultural biography of Mou Yi’s 牟益(1178–between 1240 to 1265) Fulling Cloth 擣衣圖, a 1240 monochromatic handscroll painting based on a poem of the fifth–century writer Xie Huilian 謝惠連 (407–433), with Xie's poem inscribed by the original recipient Dong Shi (act. mid–13th c.), two colophons by the painter himself, and eight hundred years’ worth of twenty subsequent colophons written by ten viewers and collectors, all attached to the painting itself. It argues that Mou Yi helped pioneer a new relationship between poetry and painting and introduced a new form of painterly commentary which would later become standard practice in Yuan 元 (1279–1368) literati painting. Furthermore, it shows that Mou Yi offers a strong defense of his artistic pursuit by quoting the philosopher Zhuangzi 莊子—a reference which has been overlooked by viewers until now—against anticipated criticism of his devotion to painting. It also demonstrates that a section of the current painting has been cut during remounting and is now lost. The cultural biography I construct from the extensive colophons is the portrait of a peripatetic handscroll, which travels not only through time, but geographically, socially, economically, and philosophically. As such, this work has accumulated a spectrum of identities and meanings bestowed by its ever-changing owners with shifting priorities. Art historically, from subject matter to material, composition to technique, artistic to authorial invention, and creation to afterlife, this work complicates the received scholarly consensus regarding the so-called Yuan-dynasty literati revolution and its artistic praxis. Very few extant works of Chinese art rival this handscroll’s eight hundred years of nearly continuous documentation, but it has received little modern attention. These colophons record the diverse attitudes the painter, collectors, and viewers held toward the work and what it represents through time. The cultural biography of the handscroll shows, I claim, the vicissitudes and historicity of taste and connoisseurship.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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