||This thesis attempts to analyze Dong Qichang ’s views on Wan Wei’s landscape paintings with the help of the literature of the history of paintings, the archaeological discoveries and the analysis of styles. First, this thesis focuses on Dong’s theory on literati paintings and so-called “Southern School of Painter-Poets”, identifying Wan Wei’s status in and his influences on the sect, providing a big picture of Wang’s status as a founder of literati paintings as well as the school.
Dong’s ideas of “literati paintings” and his veneration of Wan Wei are deeply influenced by Su Shi’s ideas on “scholar paintings” and “Painting within poetry//poetry within painting”. Dong dedicated himself to the study of Zen and tended to read paintings through the approach of Zen. This can make us understand that his views on Southern School and his veneration of Wan Wei as the founder of the school have to do with Wang’s ideas of “the tie between poetry, painting, and Zen “ and Wang’s artistic styles. Based on the above exploration of “the system and main ideas of literati paintings”, this thesis will further discuss the phenomenon and origins of the tie between poetry, painting, and Zen. Firstly, we will study the thoughts of Zen in Wan Wei’s paintings to help us see the big picture of Wang’s tie with Zen and his achievement in Zen. This will further explain why Wang’s ideas of “Zen in poetry” has to do with his achievement in landscape paintings. Secondly, we will study the idea of “Painting within poetry//poetry within painting” and borrow the idea as an approach to the understanding of the combination of poetry and painting in Wang’s poems. These two kinds of study enable us to understand how Wang’s poems are full of the ideas of Zen and how Zen lurks in his poems.
Since only a small number of paintings made during Tang dynasty are still kept now, it is necessary to do a verification of these paintings if they appear. To do this kind of verification, we appeal to the artistic styles in the paintings made during Tang Dynasty, investigating the changes in artistic styles with the help of the literature on the paintings in Tang dynasty, archaeological discoveries, and the Dunhuang Grottoes. The study of artistic styles of the paintings in Tang dynasty can provide us an objective criterion to do verification of some of Wang’s paintings.
In the second part of this thesis, we will discuss Wang’s paintings themselves. We will investigate Dong Qichang’s views on Wang’s paintings and analyze the artistic styles of them. We will focus on Dong’s view on Wang’s “The River and Mountain after Snow”, which Dong considers as the founder of Southern School; on Dong’s view on Wang’s “ The Painting of Wang River”, which Dong thinks features the spirit of the men of letters; on some paintings made during Sung and Yuan dynasties, which feature Wang Wei’s style, including Sung Huei Chung’s “The Painting of the Returning Fishing Boats on the Ice Surface of the River”, Chao Lin Yi’s “ the Mansions beside the Lake in Cool Summer”, and Chao-Mung’s “The Autumn Colors on the Ch'iao and Hua Mountains” and “The Painting of the Villages beside the River”. Dong’s views on Wang’s paintings and our analysis of the artist styles of them can help us verify Wang’s artistic characteristics in the paintings and appreciate the paintings through these characteristics. Furthermore, our study of Wang’s paintings themselves and the detailed analysis of the visual features in them can make up for the insufficiency of the approach of the mere literature analysis of Wang’s landscape paintings. Only through the detailed analysis of the paintings themselves can we appreciate the paintings in a lively way. Only the analysis of the paintings themselves, not the empty imagination provided by the words, can help us appreciate the atmosphere and supernatural sceneries in Wang’s paintings. Ultimately, the analysis of specific paintings themselves can provide the peak experience of participating in the movement of the universe