Ding Wang


“Ten days to paint water; five days to paint a stone”, an expression by Tang-dynasty poet Du Fu is often used to describe the length of time in creation. Unlike commentators of previous generations whose interpretations mostly expatiated from the perspectives of originality, inspiration or the artistic conventions, the late Ming literati placed more emphasis on the original context of socialization in Du Fu's poem. Such a perspective in the repeated citations of this poem implied an time anxiety in the late Ming literati in their socializing through painting as well as perhaps trading paintings. This poem had also become a strategy which went into the exposition of the anxiety. From the perspective of social history of art, in the context of socialization, artworks might not be created to respond to the call of inspiration and the show of originality, but return the request or even demand from bidders. Time needed for the artwork might become a key element in the capital exchange and the power play. The exposition of time points to a special focus of social history in the late Ming literati painting.


“ten days to paint a water, five days to paint a stone”, time, late Ming paintings, social history of art

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