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Modern Art of Snuff Bottle

The development of Chinese Painting inside the snuff bottle: Works of the leading Asian artists


Foreword:


This article is the second part of Peter published essay. It has thoroughly illustrated the development of Chinese inside Painting. The Chinese inside Painting is an evolving art form. Peter compares the works from the last century painters, Zhou Leyuan, Ding Erzhong, Wang Xisan, and Liu Shouben to the vert-modern artists such as Fu guoshun, Liu Ziyi, to demonstrate how do they evolve over time. As known to collectors, the painting skills required for inside Painting are much more challenging than traditional Chinese Painting. Of all themes, cat painting is considered to be relatively difficult. Wang Xisan, as the founder of Ji school, develop a new way to paint Cat, which looks more vivid than any artists prior to his generation. However, did it stop moving forward? Clearly not according to this study.

Inside Painting is an emerging art form with more young artists joining into this field. Ji school is the largest and outnumbers than the other school's pupils combined. Therefore, Peter cites Ji school to explain the development. From the year 1970 to 2010, each decade has appeared different look at the Cat depicting. Every year, the artists are improving their skills in such as capturing the vivid look of Cat and being involved in their artist's feelings. It is an incredible art industry in terms of Chinese painting art. Later stage, the artists also jump out of the box to paint the landscape with a different approach, such as Li Yingtao's splash colour. In the past, people said the inside painting is merely a work of crafts. When you finish the reading, I promise, you will have different thought on this beautiful miniature painting inside the bottle.


I spent nearly three hours transcript this article. We expect the snuff bottle publications could be put in the digital world instead of simply journals confined to only a small group of people. It is a pity. After 2020, the online art market and appreciation have grown and earned more exposure than offline due to the COVID- 19. The shifting of people’s habits online has been prevailing. Let the article be searched on Google! It will invite more collectors to join this community. Suppose you’re interested in publishing your hard copy publication on D.D Art. Please email us at ddartwork@outlook.com. We’re happy to help at no charge.


Introduction:


In this two-part article, I have addressed four points:


  1. The history and genealogy of the Five Schools of Modern Inside Painting.

  2. The main characteristics of the Five Schools

  3. Quantum leaps in painting skill over the past fifty years

  4. Quantum leaps in painting creativity over the past twenty years


The first two points were covered in Part I of this article, which appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of the Journal. In Part II of this article, I now come to the last two points, which in my opinion, will particularly appeal to those collectors who regard inside painting as a real form of art rather than just a craft. In Part I of this article, I showed the main characteristics of all the Modern Schools with the exception of the Ji School. I could not realistically go into any depth to illustrate the Ji School because of the very large number of famous Ji School artists, many of whom have their own individual and often very original styles.


Therefore, the best I can do to illustrate the richness and depth of the Ji School is to use examples from some leading Ji School artists to demonstrate my last two points: the quantum leaps in painting skill and creativity in the past decades within the Schools of Modern Inside Painting. In order to show the quantum leaps in painting skill over the past fifty years, I have used paintings of cats for the following reasons:


  1. Cats are technically very difficult to paint because of their individual faces and fine fur, especially Persian cats.

  2. We are familiar with cats. Everyone knows what a cat should look like.

  3. At one time, I had several Persian cat pets, so I know better than many people


how the faces of these cats differ from the caricatured-almost cartoon-like way they are often painted. I also used cats because Master Wang Xisan himself used a cat as an example to explain how a bottle is painted in one of his most recent books, Masters of Chinese Arts and Crafts: Wang Xisan ( 中國工藝美術大師 ) : 王習三(2014). The example in figure 1 was painted in 2006 by Master Lu Jianguang 盧建廣, who was a pupil of Wang Xisan from 1980. I start from the first decade of Early Modern inside painting, 1960-1970 (fig. 2), showing two early works by Wang Xisan when he was still a member of the Jing School. (The two early Jing School bottles in figure 2 are also usually attributed to Wang Xisan.) Going on from there, it is easy to see the growth of painting skills as we move through the following two decades, 1970-1980 (figs. 3 and 4) and then 1980-1990 ( figs. 5 through 8 ). Regarding the direct pupils of Wang Xisan can refer tho this directory.



How to paint a cat inside a bottle, Lu Jianguang ( 2006 ). D.D Art
How to paint a cat inside a bottle, Lu Jianguang ( 2006 ). Fig 1


Cats through the decades: 1960 to 1970. D.D Art Snuff Bottle
Cats through the decades: 1960 to 1970. Fig 2


Cats through the decades: 1970 to 1980. D.D Art Snuff Bottle
Cats through the decades: 1970 to 1980. Fig 3


Cats through the decades: 1970 to 1980. Fig 4
Cats through the decades: 1970 to 1980. Fig 4


Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990. D.D Art snuff bottle
Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990. Fig 5


Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990. D.D Art Snuff Bottle
Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990. Fig 6


Of particular interest is figure 7, in which it is obvious that master artists Ai Qi 艾琦and Wang Qian 王千 have both copied from the same original Western oil painting. Also of interest is figure 8, in which the rapid improvement in skill over just three years between 1986 and 1989 can be seen in the work of Cao Huimin 曹慧敏, the first Ji School woman artist.



Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990.
Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990. Fig 7.

Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990. Fig 8
Cats through the decades: 1980 to 1990. Fig 8


Note that up to 1990, I have selected only bottles painted by master artists. Therefore these really were the best paintings of cats in the first three decades since the start of the whole Modern period per se. All the artists whose works are shown going forward from figure 4 are from the Ji School, and one can clearly see huge improvements in painting skills from decade to decade. Strangely, I could not find any paintings of cats by well-known artists from 1990 to 2000. This may be because bottles of cats painted during this period were not particularly outstanding and so were not included in publications of collections. However, a more likely explanation is that master artists were turning to more creative themes by the end of the twentieth century, as I will explain later.



Cats through the decades: 2000 to 2010. Fig 9
Cats through the decades: 2000 to 2010. Fig 9

Cats through the decades: 2000 to 2010. Fig 10
Cats through the decades: 2000 to 2010. Fig 10


Cats through the decades: 2000 to 2010. Fig 11
Cats through the decades: 2000 to 2010. Fig 11

The first decade of the twenty-first century evinces another quantum leap in painting skills. (figs. 9 through 11). Compare Master Ai Qi's work in 1986 with his later works in 2004 and 2005 (figs. 6 and 9). The other examples of cat paintings that I have shown in figures 9 through 11 are by younger Ji School artists. Liu Bingshan 劉丙山 (fig. 10) does specialize in painting cats with his unique grey-tone style, while Zhang Keqin 張克芹 ( fig.11 ) paints animals in general. However, Shi Xingzhou 史星洲 (fig.9) is much better known for his Chinese landscape paintings, while Nie Lei 聶磊, also known as Yi Ding -T (fig. 11) is one of the most famous micro-calligrapher painters of the Very Modern period. Wang Shijia 王思佳 (fig.11) at the time he painted this Persian cat, which I personally commissioned from a photograph of one of my pets, was just a senior student of Li Shouxun 李守訓 in Hengshui. Nonetheless, there is no comparison between his student painting skills in 2009 and the skills of the masters from half a century before.



Cats through the decades: 2010 to today: Zhang Keqin. D.D Art snuff bottle
Cats through the decades: 2010 to today: Zhang Keqin. Fig 12

Cats through the decades: 1970 to today. Fig 13