The Lingnan School

THE LlNGNAN SCHOOL OF SNUFF BOTTLE INTERIOR PAINTERS-PART 11 Hugh M. Moss Fig. 1. Portion of landscape handscrelJ painred by Gan Xuanwen. small a space and remarking that the true spirit of the landscape is in the heart and that unless the artist has traveled widely to experience the in– ner reality of landscape, no painting can reach the level of spiritual qual– ity represented by this one. It is fol– lowed by a precise date in the Daoguang period, 1821, and the sig– nature, Jiufeng, Chen QUaIl– Jiufeng being his place of origin. It also states that the inscriber bor– rowed the painting during a visit to Yangcheng (the ancient name for Guangzhou or Canton, the capital of Guangdong province). Jiufeng is a small town on the northernmost borders of Guangdong, aboul 250 kilometers due north of the capital. The inscription is followed by twO seals. The first includes both his proper nanle, Chen Quan, and an adopted nanle Qiuyan (Autumn cliff) and reads Qiuyan, Cben Quan zhizbang (Seal of Qiuyan, Chen Quan). There is a Yuan dynasty poet who went by the name of Chen Qiuyan, using the Sanle chatacters, and it is poSSible that the literate Chen Quan adopted the name in re– sponse to a respect for his works and the coincidence of their shared family name-although it should be said um Qiuyan is a sufficiently common adopted name to allow co– incidence to be the only association , 1~ " / ...... it \1 ~& " ~ ;{J.~, -'- tii ·10 ,1- -', "l ,~} ft I~ 11,1 ,'i ~ ;: ~-....;. .... j't... -*1. It Z... '~ ~ -ti. .(:I- If, •• A "tj -lot )0. im_ o.l4:- iIli 1'£ ~::t; .\ Fig. 2. Colophon on Gan's landscape, signed Chen Quan. It is a long landscape handscroll from the collection of the Art Gal– lery of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which I showed in full previously.' It bears three colophons (artistic responses to the painting, in this case added to a separate sheet of paper and mounted to– gether with it, following the paint– ing). One of these (fig. 2) is a poetic acclamation of the painting, marvel– ing at the ability to encompass a myriad miles of landscape in so ChenQuan Chen Quan can be accurately identified through one of those rare but sustaining moments of good for– tune that, from time to time, bless all researchers. There is a single known painting by Gan Xuanwen that is not in a snuff bottle (fig. 1). In the first part of this study of the Lingnan School we concentrated on the key artist, Gan Xuanwen 1 We do nOt know whether he was the founder of the school or whether he invented ti,e art of painting on the inside of snuff bottles. Nor do we know if he was, in his day, even the most prolific and influential artist. \'V'hat is not in doubt, however, is that today his bottles are found in far greater numbers than those of his fellow artists of the Lingnan School. The art of painting inside snuff bottles appears to have been an in– vention of the first twO decades of the nineteenth century. If it was not invented at that time, it certainly be– gan to flourish from the beginning of the second decade of the century. Gan Xuanwen appears to have played the major role in either the invention or the popularization of the art-and perhaps both. One or twO other artists, however, deserve our attention, whether identifiable by name or not, and form the rest of the Lingnan School-the small group of literati artists who appear to have been the first to paint inside snuff bottles and who worked in the region that roughly equates to the modern-day province of Guangdong in the south of China, the capital of which is Guangzhou or, as it is still probably better known, Canton. Among the other artists of the school, Chen Quan is the most im– portant of those who are identifiable by name. 4