The Water Mill: authentication and analysis of an ancient Chinese Jiehua painting

Ren, Baihua (2020) The Water Mill: authentication and analysis of an ancient Chinese Jiehua painting. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The Water Mill, currently held in the Shanghai Museum, is a famous jiehua painting which for a long time was believed to have been created by the Five Dynasties artist Wei Xian. At present, most scholars hold the view that it was created around the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127). This dissertation tries to use a sociological approach, material culture study and iconographical analysis to illustrate the painting’s content, as well as research on the cultural biography of the whole handscroll, with the purpose of finding the potential artist and the time of creation. Alongside, with authentication, politics, economics and aesthetics are also discussed in the thesis to explore their effect on the development of jiehua and the specific theme of the water mill in the Chinese history of art.

Through the analysis of the cultural biography of The Water Mill, which presents a full collection history of the handscroll since the Northern Song Dynasty, its authenticity could be proved. From historical records and a residual signature, the son-in-law of the Yingzong Emperor Zhang Dunli can be established as the artist of The Water Mill and the painting may have been created around 1068–1100. The interpretation of the painting image supports this conclusion and the hypothesis from the cultural biography – the construction, costumes, climate, culture, military system, etc. – all reflect the characteristics of the Northern Song Dynasty. Therefore, The Water Mill can be seen as a representative architectural painting of the golden age of jiehua and an image representing Song culture. On this basis, this dissertation also researched the particular background to find the reasons why jiehua was popular during the 10th to 13th centuries, as well as why the water mill was a popular theme during the Song Dynasty. Further research is needed to identify faded seals in the handscroll and confirm the possibility that Zhang Dunli was the artist of The Water Mill.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Jiehua, Chinese Architectural Paintings, The Water Mill, Cultural Biography, Song Dynasty, Authenticity, Sociological Approach, Material Culture Study, Iconographical Analysis, Interdisciplinary, Geography, Paleoclimate.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Torma, Dr. Minna Katriina
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Ms Baihua Ren
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81625
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2020 14:57
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 08:52
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81625

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