金昌/金陵 [Jinchang (Suzhou) /Jinling (Nanjing)]: 文淵堂 / 抱青閣 (Wen yuan tang/Bao Qing ge), 1679, 1782, 1818. First edition. Softcover. Small quartos. 10x6.5". 4 vols in 17 parts housed in 4 blue cloth portfolios with black lettering over white or purple paper labels on the front covers, and bone fasteners. Vol.1 is in 5 parts, vols. 2-4 are in 4 parts each. Softcover volumes in tan paper wrappers, with purple or white paper labels on the front covers. This is a mixed set (as is often found), with the first volumes being a first edition (1679), the 2nd and 3rd volumes being second editions (1782), and the last volume being a first edition (1818). The Manual of the Mustard Seed (Jieziyuan Huazhau) is known as an important and highly influential manual and comprehensive visual analysis on the techniques of Chinese painting, with many famous and acclaimed artist's since, having used the work as tutorial text. These artists include Fu Baoshi, Qi Baishi, Huang Binhong, and Pan Tianshou. The work is magnificently illustrated in fine detail throughout, analyzing each of the constituent aspects of the art form.
The work was first published in 1679 as a single volume (without publisher's information), on the commission of Shen Xinyou and his father-in-law, the famous playwright Li Yu. Working with materials from Li Yu's collection of art and teaching materials, much of which came from the work of Ming-era artist Li Liufang, the two commissioned brothers Wang Gai, Wang Shi and Wang Nie, as well as Zhu Sheng, to edit and expand the work, with annotations, into a painting manual. The work took its name from Li's estate, known as "The Garden of the Mustard Seed", and was printed in a 5-color woodblock printing technique. Two additional volumes were published in 1701, with contributions from the same group of people. The now three volumes were published in a new edition in 1748, and then a widely successful third edition in 1782. A fourth volume, compiled and copied from two previous works* was added to the set in 1818, by an unknown publisher.
The first volume, known as 山水譜 ("Mountain-Water" portfolio) is an exhaustively detailed work in 5 parts, on how to paint in "Mountain-water" style of landscape painting. Each of the 5 parts breaks down a different individual element of the style into its components. Pt.1 contains text on the brush and ink techniques, how to use colors, composition, and also examines the styles of previous masters and schools in this genre of painting. Pt.2 serves a visual analysis of trees, branches and leaves. Pt.3 is a study of rocks, mountains and their textures, as well as clouds and water. Pt.4 visualizes man-made objects, such as furniture, buildings, houses, bridges and boats as well as human figures and animals. Pt.5 reproduces many historic works in the Mountain-Water style, in b/w and color, many of which are composed in oval or foldable hand-fan shaped frames. This volume is identified as being a first edition, because of the quality of 5-color woodblocks prints in pt.5 of this vol. in brown, red, green, blue and yellow. This volume also includes the original artist's stamps baring the name of 康熙 Kangxi, the 4th Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1654-1722), and Li Yu identifying this as an original first edition.
The second volume, known as the 梅蘭竹菊譜 ("The Four Gentlemen" portfolio) is textual and visual study of the "four noble" plants in traditional Chinese culture and art. These plants which correspond to Confucian "junzi" (gentlemen) are: the plum blossom, the orchid, the bamboo, and the chrysanthemum. Pt.1 features the plum blossom; its leaves, branches, flowers and wood, with beautiful woodblock prints in b/w and color. Pt. 2 is a study of the orchid, pt.3 the bamboo and pt.4 the chrysanthemum.
The third volume known as 翎毛花卉譜 examines the "bird-and-flower" genre of painting. Each of the four parts examines a component of the genre, including flowers, birds and insects. All of the volumes contain woodblock prints, some in b/w and some in color. Three of the four contain text. These volumes bear name of the publisher, Wen yuan tang (文淵堂) identifying them as second editions.
The fourth volume, 人物 is on the topic of figurative drawing. Pt.1 includes an analysis of the facial dimensions, the individual components of facial expressions, parts of the face and orientation of the figure. Pt.2 is instruction on how to render Buddhist figures and the famous 8 immortals of Chinese mythology. Pt.3 discusses the painting of famous historical figures, including Su Shi and the Emperor Gaozu of Han. Pt. 4 explores the sub-genre of 美人圖 "beautiful person pictures", specifically women, including some mythological and historical figures, including Wu Zetian and Xi Shi. Woodblock prints in b/w.
Ex-library copies, with bookplates to the interiors of the portfolios. Portfolios with some rubbing, sunning and abrasions to the covers, flaps and sides. The left flap of the first portfolio is nearly detached at the hinge. Wormholes to interiors of some of the portfolios, covers of the individual softcover volumes and the edges of some pages. Images throughout the collection almost entirely unaffected. Portfolios in good- to good, softcover wrappers in good-, interiors in good- to very good condition overall. g- to vg. Item #41269
* 晚笑堂畫傳 (Wan xiao tang hua chan) by 上官周 (Shang Guan Zhou) from 1743, and 寫真祕訣 (Xie Zhen Mi Jue) 丁皋 (Ding Gao).