Friday, August 29, 2014
Style in Chinese Landscape Painting: The Song Legacy
When: through October 26, 2014
With all due apologies to Carolina in the morning, what could be finer than a trip to the Freer in the afternoon? Very little, and this is yet another lovely display that repays a visit.
I'm very fond of landscape paintings, and many of these are quite fine. The Song Dynasty lasted a long time, from the mid-10th to the mid-14th century. This period was the apogee of traditional Chinese painting. Landscapes came into their own as subjects; they moved out of the background, as it were and took center stage.
The paintings from this time had a great effect on later painters, and often these later works have been mistaken for the efforts of earlier masters. There are very few genuine Song Dynasty paintings still left, which is hardly surprising given their age. Some of them are here in the Freer - yet another reason to be grateful for living in DC.
My favorite works were those in the Mi Family style - not much color to them, but they made the most of the blacks and grays at their disposal. Mist is featured in all of these pictures - which is really untouched paper, a charming effect.
My only criticism is that many of the works are rather dark, which makes it hard to see any detail. This is hardly the Freer's fault, as I can only imagine this is the effect of age and environmental conditions. One thing I wish could be changed are the display cases - there's quite a bit of glare, which doesn't help matters.
Verdict: Another enjoyable time at the Freer.