The Chinese Literati on Painting

Su Shih (1037–1101) to Tung Ch’i-ch’ang (1555–1636)


Susan Bush

ISBN : 978-988-8139-70-5

Film, Media, Fine Arts

November 2012

228 pages, 6″ x 9″, 9 b&w illus.

  • HK$210.00

This classic work, first published in 1971, explores the transition in painting styles from the late Sung period to the art of Yuan dynasty literati. Building on the pioneering work of Oswald Siren and James Cahill, Susan Bush’s investigations of painting done under the Chin dynasty confirmed the dominance of scholar-artists in the north and their gradual development of scholarly painting traditions, and a related study of Northern Sung writings showed that their theory was shaped as much by the views of their social class as by their artistic aims. Bush’s perspective on Sung scholars’ art and theory helps explain the emergence of literati painting as the main artistic tradition in Yuan times. Social history thus served to supplement an understanding of the evolution of artistic styles.

Susan Bush is an associate in research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University.

“This book holds a revered place in the canon of modern Western literature on the subject and a reserved place on the shelf of every serious East Asian art scholar. Working with scattered writings and occasional jottings, Bush has woven these into a coherent, full-length, superior account of the Chinese scholars’ rationale for painting, as it joined with poetry and calligraphy as a mode of personal expression and a means of moral self-cultivation. Out of print for the last decade, Bush is now back for a new generation of readers.” —Jerome Silbergeld, Princeton University