Classification of Painters   (Extract)
by Xie He

Painting is meant to encourage good, to stop evil, and to testify how things emerged and sank. So upon viewing such a painting, a lesson can be learned from what happened long long time ago.

There are six principles that made a good painting. Most painters, from ancient times to the present, have been capable of one of them; it is seldom that someone rounded the whole up. The six principles are lively response, forceful brushstroke, fidelity to the object, conformity to coloring, proper composition, and, lastly, the understanding of tradition. Only two painters, Lu Tanwei and Wei Xie, integrated all of these elements together.

Regardless of dynastic changes, the criteria to judge an artist have remained the same. Thereupon, I classify the painters according to their accomplishment. The list below is not intended to be comprehensive; only those who were enlightened by divine guidance are included.

Seven worthies
relief brick mural, 240 x 80 cm.
ink rubbing on rice paper

Essays on Chinese painting

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