East / West Exchange in Arts of China and Japan


Alright, this next video will cover
some topics of east-west exchange in China and Japan. We’ll start off with
China and look at the Qing dynasty, and then we will move on to Japan. Obviously
what we’re seeing here is a woodblock print from the ukiyo-e tradition in Japan.
It’s known commonly as the Great Wave, and it’s part of a series of views of
Mount Fuji. And we’ll talk about it in more detail in a few minutes, but these
artworks were very influential for European artists. So we’ll be thinking
about that exchange in the lecture today. But starting off with China — so what we
just saw was Japanese — but starting off with China, we’re talking about the Qing
dynasty — the dynasty that comes after the Ming. The Qing is another one of these
examples of what’s considered to be a foreign dynasty. So we’d seen with the Yuan —
a dynasty that was ruled by the Mongols — and so it was not always accepted by
those in China. With the Qing dynasty, it’s a dynasty ruled by the Manchus,
which were a semi-nomadic people from northeast of the
Great Wall. They conquered the crumbling Ming state and established their own
Qing dynasty — Ching meaning “pure.” So, obviously picking a name to reflect
positive aspects. It’s the last imperial dynasty in China, so in 1912 the last
Emperor Puyi would abdicate and China would then move into becoming a republic,
and then finally into the People’s Republic. And we’ll talk about that in a
later video. So the map that you see on the left is the Ching dynasty in 1890,
which shows the extent of the Qing dynasty — roughly similar to China today.
So an example of this east-west exchange would be a favorite artist among the
Qing Emperors whose name was Giuseppe Castiglione. From that name I think
you can clearly tell that he was not Chinese. He was from Italym and he went by
the Chinese name Lang Shi’ning. And this is a hand scroll that was created around
the time of the inauguration of the Qianlong Emperor, who was an incredibly
important Emperor, who ruled for most of the 18th century. His reign went from
1735 to 1796 — so a very, very extensive, very long reign. This is called the
“Inauguration portraits of the Qianlong Emperor, his Empress,
and the 11 imperial consorts,” or “Mind picture of a well-governed and tranquil
reign.” We are looking at a detail so we’re just seeing this section here.
Remember, of course, I know I’ve told you this a million times, but you read handscrolls from right to left, and so you would start over here. You would
encounter this cinnabar seals, you would encounter any decoration at the start of
the scroll then you would see the young Qianlong emperor with the sense that
you’re starting off a great new Imperial rule then you encounter the Empress and
then moving on to his consorts. So the emperor had his Empresses; he had
consorts of various levels; and then on to concubines. So remember that these
rulers often had, you know, multiple wives or consorts. This was a way to
create diplomatic ties and also a way to ensure the heir for the Empire,
an heir to become the next Emperor. So clearly what we’re seeing here is a
moment where we’re supposed to be sure that we’re entering into a tranquil
reign. We also see that he’s very young, and has a great reign ahead of him — looks
very healthy and, of course, he will go on to reign for decades and decades into
the latter part of the 18th century. It’s ink and color on silk. You can see the
beautiful clothes that they’re wearing. So we’re gonna see an example of one of
these robes in just a second, but you can see that in the winter time, they were
often lined with fur — various types of luxurious fur. They were woven — this kind
of tapestry weave — that would take a very, very long time to create by hand. And we
do see some distinct styles with the robes of the Qhing dynasty, which I’ll
discuss in a little more detail in the in the next slides. But you can see that
with the art of Giuseppe Castiglione, he was bringing a greater naturalism to the
representation of the human form that was something that the Qing emperors
appreciated that they looked all the more real, all the more present. So there
were certain elements of Western painting that they did appreciate and
that Castiglione was able to introduce into the
Chinese Court. If we look at the Qianlong Emperor in old age, so clearly we can see
that he did live to be an older emperor, and he lived to be eighty-seven. You can
see that the robes were heavily decorated with dragons, which we’ve
talked about before. Again, fur lining to keep warm in the
winter. Beijing is cold in the winter. You can see that they have these kind of
heavy cuffs around the the hands, and some people suggest that this connects
back to traditions of how you would want your robe to cover your hands, to keep
your hands warm, kind of like gloves, especially if you were a group that rode
horseback, which the Manchus did. And so this was a way to protect and cover the
hands. You can also see how the robes would often be adorned with jewelry or
other types of symbols. You could attach different symbols from the belt, or
different objects from the belt. You can see that he’s also in his dragon throne.
So you see this kind of windy-ness of the dragon throne off to the side. And so
that reinforcement of the dragon over and over again. This figure that can help
to control the weather that can move between the heavens and the earth. And
again, the Emperor as the Son of Heaven, it makes a lot of sense to connect to
that dragon. So we were talking about how in China, they were starting to really
appreciate the style of Lang Shi’ning, or Giuseppe Castiglione in his Italian
name. And so what they appreciated was this greater naturalism, this interest in
the human form, this idea of making the Emperor look truly present, this idea of
really making the human form very prominent, rather than emphasizing only
the natural world, really bringing the the human form into greater presence. But
there was something that they really didn’t like about Western [European] art, and that
was that heavy use of modeling. So if we compare Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor,
by Titian, a Venetian artist, who worked in the 16th century to Castiglione’s
representation of the Qianlong Emperor on horseback, you can see that heavy
use of modeling in Titian’s version version, and by modeling I mean the heavy
use of shadows, so using shadows to make the figures look
more dimensional because there was always this goal in European art of “how
do we make these figures look more sculptural and more dimensional?” and
there’s always this heavy use of modeling in order to bring those figures
forward. And the Chinese thought that that looked really dirty, and there was
this idea of creating an image of harmony and purity — remember that Qing
dynasty means pure — and so you have this idea of brightness and clarity in the
images of the Qianlong Emperor. So, I just think that’s an important contrast
between the two. If we move on to that portrait of the elderly Qianlong
Emperor, you can see — and this [portrait] is by an artist in Castiglione’s style — not by Castiglione himself. You can see again those similarities between East and West, when
we look at the Qianlong Emperor, the elderly Qianlong Emperor compared to Henry
VIII from the 16th century by Hans Holbein the Younger. You can see that
both figures are really filling the composition; they look powerful; they have a lot of decoration on their bodies; a lot of indications of power and
royalty. However, you definitely have that reduction in modeling on the Qianlong
emperor and also that idea of brightness and purity that’s reinforced in the
Qianlong Emperor’s portrait. So we were talking about the importance of
robes and the dragon robes and what the emperors are wearing. And we did mention
this in a previous or I did mention this in a previous video, as well. And there
were some modifications depending on the dynasty. So we tended to
see more loose robes in the Ming Dynasty and then they become a little bit more
kind of contained and allowing for more easy movement during the Qing dynasty
so there’s different theories as to why this was. Whether it was coming down from
traditions from the Manchus or whether it was just a deliberate shift because
they had moved into a new dynasty; we’re not a hundred percent sure, but there is
some consistent symbolism. So this idea of the Emperor at Center: the neck is called
“The Gate of Heaven”. So again he’s the Son of Heaven. You have this cloud filled sky
filled with these dragons. So three dragons on the back, three dragons on the
front, so three on the front, three on the back,
two on the shoulders and then the Emperor’s head is the ninth dragon. And I
think I said in a previous video that he was the tenth dragon. It’s definitely the
ninth so this idea that he’s always kind of just one slightly below heaven. One
slightly below the perfection of heaven. So again, that cloud-filled sky filled
with dragons eight dragons on the robe, that Emperor’s head is the ninth dragon.
You have these prism-shaped rocks creating those cardinal points: north,
south, east, and west. tThen you have what’s called the “Lishui” border leading us to
this universal ocean. So he’s just emerging out of this amazing ocean here
with waves crashing against these prism shaped rocks. During the reign of the
Qianlong Emperor, he decided that there should be these twelve symbols that are
incorporated into the robes. There have been different theories as to why this
kind of outsider dynasty allowed these very traditional twelve symbols but at
this point that Qianlong emperor — his power was pretty well
established — the Qing dynasty was doing quite well, and so that’s probably the
reason they started appropriating these traditional Chinese symbols. So symbols
include: the sun, the moon, the constellations, also a mountain
symbolizing the earth. There’s what’s called a flowery creature or pheasant
symbolizing the spring. There’s a pair of dragons symbolizing the summer, an axe
symbolizes the autumnal equinox, which was also the time when the emperor would
order executions — autumn was a traditional time of death. As well the
“Fu” symbol which is this symbol — you can google it “Fu” — [spelled] “F-U” — meaning the winter solstice,
which is also connected to the idea of the emperor as the chief judge. So
symbols of the elements: there’s a symbol of water with the water weed, libation
cups symbolize metal and also temple offerings, grain symbolizes the element
of wood and it also symbolizes plant life and the Emperor’s responsibility to
feed his people. Remember the emperor would make sacrifices at the Temple of
Heaven to help ensure a prosperous year and a good harvest,
and then a flame symbolizes fire, and then there’s also that mountain symbol [already mentioned]
which symbolizes earth. So you have the five elements; you have all of the
seasons; and then you have symbols of both the heavens and the earth. So the
whole the whole robe is really full of symbols and the universality of the
emperor, the centrality of the emperor, and his importance to survival for the
Chinese. There’s just a close-up on some of those dragons, the prism-shaped rocks,
and then the water of the universal ocean. The dragon is a really interesting
composite creature. There’s been some discussion of the different animal
elements that are all composed in the dragon including: a camel, a deer, a frog, a
rabbit, [and] a tiger, so it’s really this kind of composite of powerful being. The
dragon robe that we were looking at previously is from the Daoguang Emperor
from the 19th century, and so I’m just showing you a comparison between the
robe itself and then the emperor with all of the and the extra accoutrements
added, right? So having the belts, also the additional jewelry, the headgear that
kind of cape that he’s wearing. You can get a full sense of how he would have
looked in ceremonial garb. During the the Qianlong Emperor’s rule — so going back to the 18th century — there is a greater development in
different kinds of porcelain colors. So that’s really the contribution to
porcelain during this period. We talked about, during the Ming, the interest in
really perfecting the blue-and-white porcelain style, although we do see some
experimentation with different colors. But during the Qing dynasty, we see this
interest in exploring what are known as enamels, and so this is porcelain painted
with colored enamels over transparent glaze. It does come from that porcelain
city Jingdezhen, which is the city that had a plentiful amount of that wonderful
“kaolin” clay — that white clay that could create the wonderful
porcelain. So this created a wider variety of colors. The pink was a pretty
big deal because the way the pink was created, you would take red and you would add a
tiny bit of gold to it, and that would create the pink shade. So what we’re
seeing here is a vase with nine peaches. A peach had a symbolism associated with
a long, healthy life, and also with immortality, so obviously it was a very
auspicious symbol. But also just the fact that you had this wider variety of
colors meant that you could create more of this export ware that had a
wider audience. So especially for Europeans — they often demanded a lot of
extra decoration, and so these extra colors were probably highly sought after.
Remember that the imperial court itself would also commission a lot of
porcelain ware and that would be brought into the imperial household. So I was
talking about the enamels, and so an enamels just mean that you are going to
do a second firing. You’re going to do your initial firing at the porcelain high firing temperature, and then you’re gonna do a second firing to fire
on these colors because they can’t withstand the super-high porcelain
temperatures. So you can see that part of the enamels have almost fallen, have
fallen off, and so you have these portions that are no longer there. But
basically, it’s an over glazed enamel almost a glass — a colored glass
like substance that’s added on to this surface. But due to this wider
range of colors beyond blue it added a broader audience to the porcelain.
just in case I forgot to say something about this particular robe — just this
idea that textiles, of course, don’t necessarily survive very well over time.
And so we do tend to have more textiles from recent dates. I think I mentioned
this in a previous video too — but the Qing dynasty — we have quite a bit of
clothing that survives from this period. But you’ll notice that the Daoguang
Emperor ruled in the 19th century so we’re seeing a robe that’s much more
recent than even the Qianlong Emperor, so it’s it’s pretty important and
special to have these garments that survived because again textiles don’t
necessarily survive very well over time — not as well as ceramics or things like
that. Alright so moving on to Japan for the remainder of the video. We’ll be
thinking about the period going from 1615 to 1868. So 1615
to 1868. At the end of the Edo period, the Shogunate is abolished and the emperor
is restored to power. So we’ll see a dramatic shift as we move into the 19th
century and in the next video, we’ll be talking about some politics and things
like that — or in a later video. So during the Edo period, you see the continuation
of the the creation of these gold screens. So we talked about these gold
screens from the previous period thinking about how they helped to
illuminate these very dark castles — these dark spaces because it was such a
warring time in Japan. But I like this particular screen. It is considered a
national treasure in Japan. It’s a really important set of screens. Here obviously
you have these gold squares that are added, and they are
created on these rather large screens and it’s by an artist named Tawaraya Sotatsu, and it’s the thunder and wind god — so you see
Raijin, who’s the god of lightning, thunder, and storms, and then you see Fujin
over here — the god of wind. So what’s wonderful about this particular screen
as you have this kind of vast area of gold again illuminating space,
demonstrating wealth, but also the energy that’s kind of packed into these two
sides. So obviously these gods are connected back to Shinto and connected
to Japanese mythology. So you see this enduring quality of Shinto and this
interest in nature spirits, the “KAMI” that are continuing to endure in moving
into the Edo period. So we see here this kind of energy bursting from the sides.
You see the musculature, but also the fact that these figures look older, so
certain parts of their body look kind of slack and relaxed, and other parts look
incredibly muscular, so just the power of these figures, the importance of
lightning, thunder, and storms obviously being incredibly powerful. And then of
course wind being very powerful, so there’s these energetic forces that are
entering from either side, the idea of wind blowing the ribbons on this figure.
Here the idea of lightning and thunder emanating, and smoke
emanating from this figure. Fujin collecting the wind in this
drapery that he holds behind him. So there’s a wonderful sense of motion.
There’s also been discussion that Sotatsu created a lot of painted fans, so
some people have discussed that the shapes of these creatures that are
tucked into the corners here are somewhat reminiscent of fan decoration. Just
another example of a very famous golden screen — not a key work — is a screen Irises
by Korin (by Ogata Korin). And so you can see this is a pair of 6 folded
screens with color and gold leaf on paper, also from the Edo period. And
there’s just this wonderful kind of flatness to these images that will be influential
for later Japanese contemporary artists, so please keep these in mind. The
flatness of the image, the kind of rhythm as the flowers dance across the screen,
as they go from being thick to more thin, to just kind of beginning to appear from
the ground that’s represented by the gold in the background. So almost a kind
of poetic rhythm as these natural figures are moving across the screen.
Alright the main topic for the end of the video is ukiyo-e. These woodblock
prints that were very popular from Japan, and also were collected quite a bit in
Europe. Ukiyo-e just means pictures of the floating world. These tended to be about
subjects that were more kind of of the red-light district. So you tended to see
kabuki theater, you tend to see courtesans represented. So there
was a particular district in Edo, in [modern-day] Tokyo where some of these actions or
activities could take place, and where it was permissible. And so things like
courtesans and kabuki theater were very popular in this district. We also have a
section or group of ukiyo-e called “shunga” which essentially means spring
pictures. They’re very sexual. They are sexual, erotic images — again very
popular today. We see also landscape scenes, scenes of just beautiful women —
kind of celebrations of beautiful women — but much more popular culture.
This narrative style originated from the emaki tradition — that was
narrative hand scrolls that we’ve seen previously. There are scenes of
entertainment and beautiful women as I mentioned. There were millions of prints
produced from the 17th to the 19th centuries. And as I mentioned they were
very, very popular in Europe and very influential. So here I’m showing you a
work The courtesan by Eisen from the 1820s. And courtesans there were
certain ways that they would tie their garments and extra adornments that they
would wear that would make them distinct from other Japanese women. One of the
most famous examples of shunga — the spring pictures that were often very
sexual or that were that very sexual, very erotic. It’s by
Utamaro. This is called couple in an upstairs room from a series
of images from the “Poem of the Pillow.” This is from the late 18th century. And
so these woodblock prints. You essentially would take different blocks
add different colors to them and create this kind of complete image. It was
quite time-consuming in some cases. There are many videos on YouTube where you can
watch people making these prints. And so you can watch these different stages of
laying down, you know, a pattern portion, different patterns, different
colors to create these unified images. So Utamaro’s work is this very intimate
scene. We’re in the upstairs room of a tea house. You can see the branches of a
tree from outside. The opening of the room. You can see the man here. Often
people will point out that you can just see his eyes staring into the woman’s
eye here. You can just see a hand on her shoulder. Her garment is falling away;
she’s reaching towards his face. You can see just a little bit of her bottom here.
You can see lots of folds and crevices, alluding to sexual activity. And then you
have a little inscription added on the fan which says “it’s beak caught firmly
in the clamshell / the snipe cannot fly away / on an autumn evening.” So again nice
sexual message there. So there’s all different discussions as to what shunga
means and what it was used for. Some scholars suggest that it was just for
private fantasies — for kind of private moments with a sexual image. There have
been various myths put forward that maybe they were used for sex education.
This is probably not correct. And then other people have suggested maybe they
were supposed to kind of ward off evil, ward off fire — an apotropaic
function, which we’ve seen in other cultures, how they use some sexual
imagery. But we don’t really think it’s the case here. And then some people have
suggested that warriors or soldiers would put them [shunga] in their helmets or keep
them with them during battle, again, to ward off evil. Probably not. Most likely
again, these were kind of private images that people could enjoy on their own,
although the purpose is still discussed and still debated. One of the most famous
images in all of Japanese art — probably one that you’re familiar with — is called
the Great Wave off Kanagawa. Most commonly just called the Great Wave. It’s
part of a series of 36 views of Mount Fuji. You can just see Mount Fuji
featured here in the background. I often ask, you know, why is this the image that
gets so much attention? I think it’s pretty understandable. It was widely
copied, so they made many many copies of it. So again with prints, you can make
multiple impressions, multiple copies, and that’s why millions of these ukiyo-e
were available around this time. And so this one was very common. If you ever go
to an exhibit of ukiyo-e at a museum, most likely this will be on exhibit
because any or most museums with a Japanese collection will have a copy of
this particular print, will have an impression of this print by Hokusai.
So you see the name here. So anyways, it also I think ideas of Japan — the
idea of Mount Fuji — that’s something that a lot of people connect to, so you have
Mount Fuji here in the background. The idea of waves, the power of water,
obviously Japan is a series of islands and has often been at the mercy
of the ocean. And so you see just the power of nature and the power of the
waves. And we could even connect this back to the kind of [Shinto] Kami that we were
seeing previously with the thunder and wind god. Again the importance of the
natural world in Japan, so we clearly see that here. Many people
don’t notice the three boats that are incorporated into the scene. So you see
them here. Just the idea that the wave is about to fall on them. So you have this
particular moment of drama as well. People have also also noticed that the
spray from the wave is somewhat similar to the snow that’s resting on Mount Fuji
in this particular winter or cold moment here. So as I mentioned there
are thirty-six views, so I just wanted to show you one other view — a view from a
temple where we’re seeing the ornate roof and then you can also see the
clouds that frame Mount Fuji, a kite, and again landscape scenes were quite common
for ukiyo-e, as well. So I did discuss that there was a lot of influence from
these images going to Europe and influencing European artists. So Mary
Cassatt is one example. Vincent van Gogh is another. So I just wanted to show
you a painting that he created after a “Sudden Evening Shower” by Hiroshige. So
you see that shower here, where you see individuals on a bridge, and the rain is
coming down quite ferociously. Again a nice study of nature and the natural
world. This dates to the mid 19th century. Vincent van Gogh doesn’t create a print
of this. So Hiroshige’s is a print and could be created in multiples.
Vincent van Gogh creates a unique painting where he’s using his bold
colors. So the European tended to like the colors that were selected, the fact
that it tends to be landscapes or city scenes. Those studies of beautiful women
all of those were really popular amongst impressionist and post-impressionists. So
just the subjects were really striking for them, some of the patterning that
they saw was really interesting for a European artist. So all of that was
interesting to them. There also was kind of a craze for Japanese culture around
this time, so that’s important to mention as well. So Vincent van Gogh at imitated
calligraphy that he found on other prints. He really tried to get that
effect of the instance of rain and that moment of rain, which was something
interesting to impressionists and post-impressionists — Vincent van
Gogh was a post Impressionist. So this kind of moment of the natural world is
something he’s trying to capture. And so you can see the connection between
the two very obviously. Here you can see an example where in a popular
journal, you have this idea or this spreading of the images of ukiyo-e, how
it’s coming in to be reproduced in journals and in popular publications. And
then again Vincent van Gogh picks this up and represents a courtesan framed
with a kind of garden and pond in the background, so connecting to the idea of the
lotus [flower] which we often see in Asian art. And then here he has a portrait of Pere
Tanguy, who was the owner of a shop of art supplies. And so Vincent van Gogh
created a portrait of him with many of his versions of ukiyo-e created an
painted form in the background. So I hope this has been informative in terms of
East and West exchange in China and Japan, and you’ve learned a little bit
about prints and costume and portraiture. And we will move on next to Japanese
gardens.

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