ARTH 272. Chinese Pictures, Ming Dynasty to Modern. Fall 2014.
Professor Lara Blanchard
tel: x3893
Art & Architecture Department, 208 Houghton House

Lectures: MWF 11:15am-12:10pm, 212 Houghton House
Office Hours:
M 12:15-1:15pm, T 3:45-4:45pm, or by appointment, 208 Houghton House

Course description:
This course will explore pictorial practice from 1368 through the end of the twentieth century, focusing on painting and printmaking. Painting is regarded as high art in the earliest Chinese histories of art, second only to calligraphy, while prints are a much more “common” art form. Material will be presented chronologically, but broader topics will include popular subject matter in later pictures, including figural topics and landscapes; pictures as social or political commentary; art criticism and later theories on painting; notions of artist's places within specific social classes; questions of patronage and collecting; and Chinese responses to international art movements. The course is cross-listed with Asian Studies. It addresses Goals 6 (an intellectually grounded foundation for the understanding of differences and inequalities of gender, race, and class) and 7 (knowledge of the multiplicity of world cultures).

Learning objectives:
One objective is for students to gain practical skills useful in any study of art history, including an understanding of how meaning can be encoded in visual media and improved proficiency in writing. More conceptual learning objectives include understanding how works of art operate as historical artifacts that reveal current ideas on politics, religion, and society; that Chinese painting and printmaking are creative endeavors with strong ties to literature; and broader knowledge of the connections between Chinese and world cultures.



  • Richard M. Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years of Chinese Painting (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).
  • Sylvan Barnet, ed., A Short Guide to Writing about Art, 11th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson, 2015)—recommended for students new to art history.
Coursepack (available from the Art & Architecture Department):
  • Kwan S. Wong, “Hsiang Yüan-pien and Suchou Artists,” in Artists and Patrons: Some Social and Economic Aspects of Chinese Painting, ed. Chu-tsing Li (Lawrence, Kans.: Kress Foundation Department of Art History, University of Kansas; Kansas City, Mo.: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1989), 155-58.
  • Ellen Johnston Laing, Suzhou Pian and Other Dubious Paintings in the Received Oeuvre of Qiu Ying,” Artibus Asiae 59, no. 3/4 (2000): 265-95.
  • Susan Bush, The Chinese Literati on Painting: Su Shih (1037-1101) to Tung Ch’i-ch’ang (1555-1636) (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), 151-79.
  • Dawn Ho Delbanco, “The Romance of the Western Chamber: Min Qiji’s Album in Cologne,” Orientations 14, no. 6 (June 1983): 12-23.
  • Ellen Johnston Laing, “Wives, Daughters, and Lovers: Three Ming Dynasty Women Painters,” in Views from Jade Terrace: Chinese Women Artists 1300-1912, by Marsha Weidner et al. (Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1988), 31-39.
  • Richard E. Strassberg, trans., Enlightening Remarks on Painting (Pasadena: Pacific Asia Museum, 1989), 61-91.
  • Ginger Tong, “Yun Shou-p’ing and his Patrons,” in Artists and Patrons, 209-14.
  • Scott Minick and Jiao Ping, Chinese Graphic Design in the Twentieth Century (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990), 89-129.
  • Stanley K. Abe, “No Questions, No Answers: China and A Book from the Sky,” boundary 2 25, no. 3 (Autumn 1998): 169-92. [JSTOR]
  • Karen Smith, “Zero to Infinity: The Nascence of Photography in Contemporary Chinese Art of the 1990s,” in Reinterpretation: A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art (1990-2000), ed. Wu Hung, Wang Huangsheng, and Buyi Feng (Guangzhou: Guangdong Museum of Art, 2002), 35-50.
  • Britta Erickson, “The Rise of a Feminist Spirit in Contemporary Chinese Art,” ArtAsiaPacific 31 (July 2001): 64-71.
  • Feng Jiali, “Limitless Difference: On Being a Chinese Woman Artist,” ArtAsiaPacific 31 (July 2001): 64-71.


Weekly schedule


Sept. 1 (M).      Overview of the course.

Sept. 3 (W).     Approaches to Chinese painting.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 1-12.


Sept. 5 (F).       Court portraiture and political themes.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 197-203.

Sept. 8 (M).      Courtly images of nature: landscape and bird-and-flower paintings.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 203-208.

Sept. 10 (W).   Zhe School and the Jiangxia School.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 208-15.

Sept. 12 (F).     Research in art history.

Sept. 15 (M).    Looking back to the past: Shen Zhou.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 215-19.

Sept. 17 (W).   Wen Zhengming and literati painters of the Wu School.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 215-21.

Sept. 19 (F).     Professional painters Zhou Chen and Tang Yin.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 221-24.

Sept. 22 (M).    Qiu Ying and Suzhou professional painters.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 224-27.
  • Laing, “Suzhou Pian,” 265-95.

Sept. 24 (W).   The art collection of Xiang Yuanbian.

  • Wong, “Hsiang Yüan-pien,” 155-58.

Sept. 26 (F).     “Impressionist” painters Chen Chun and Xu Wei.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 227-32.

Sept. 29 (M).    Dong Qichang and painting theory.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 232-36.
  • Bush, The Chinese Literati on Painting, 151-79.


Oct. 1 (W).       Figure painting in the late Ming and early Qing.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 236-42.

Oct. 3 (F).Portraiture in the late Ming and early Qing.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 242-46, 269-71.

Oct. 6 (M).Printmaking and narrative illustration.

  • Delbanco, “The Romance of the Western Chamber,” 12-23.

Oct. 8 (W).       Women of artistic families.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 246-48.
  • Laing, “Wives, Daughters, and Lovers,” 31-35.

Oct. 10 (F).      Courtesan artists.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 248-49.
  • Laing, “Wives, Daughters, and Lovers,” 35-39.

[Oct. 11-14, Fall Recess]

Oct. 15 (W).     Bada Shanren, monk painters, and responses to the fall of the Ming.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 251-58.

Oct. 17 (F).      Shitao’s landscapes.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 258.
  • Strassberg, Enlightening Remarks on Painting, 61-91.

Oct. 19 (Sun.). Field trip to the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. Optional.


Oct. 20 (M).     The Four Wangs at the Qing court.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 259-64.

Oct. 22 (W).     Gong Xian and masters of Jinling.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 266-69.

Oct. 24 (F).      Two bird-and-flower painters: Yun Shouping, Shen Quan.

  • Tong, “Yun Shou-p’ing,” 209-14.
  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 264-66, 285-89.

Oct. 27 (M).     “Unaffiliated” painters.

Oct. 29 (W).     Eccentric painters in Yangzhou.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 273-81.

Oct. 31 (F).      Meticulous style of representing architecture and landscape.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 281-82.

Nov. 3 (M).      Painting at the 18th-century courts of Yongzheng and Qianlong.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 282-85.
  • FIRST TEST due.

Nov. 5 (W).     Paintings of beautiful women.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 290-92.

Nov. 7 (F).       The Shanghai School.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 292-96.


Nov. 10 (M).    Wu Changshuo and the Lingnan School in the early republic.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 299-308.

Nov. 12 (W).   Qi Baishi, Huang Binhong, and their contemporaries.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 308-17.

Nov. 14 (F).     Writing workshop.

Nov. 17 (M).                Xu Beihong and related artists.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 317-22.

Nov. 19 (W).   Printmaking in service of politics.

  • Minick and Ping, Chinese Graphic Design, 89-129.

Nov. 21 (F).     Painting in traditional media in the early P.R.C.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 322-37.

Nov. 24 (M).    The School of Painting from Life.

[Nov. 26-30, Thanksgiving Recess]

Dec. 1 (M).      Chinese artists working outside China.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 347-52.

Dec. 3 (W).      Painting in traditional media following the Cultural Revolution.

  • Barnhart et al., Three Thousand Years, 352-54.

Dec. 5 (F).       Political critique after the Cultural Revolution.

  • Abe, “No Questions, No Answers,” 169-92.

Dec. 8 (M).      Photography since the 1990s.

Dec. 10 (W).    Female artists and feminism.

  • Erickson, “The Rise of a Feminist Spirit,” 64-71.
  • Feng, “Limitless Difference,” 64-71.

Dec. 12 (F).     Conclusions.

Dec. 16 (Tu), 4:30pm.  SECOND TEST due.



Course requirements

1.         Class participation (15%). This includes regular and punctual attendance (see Attendance policy below) and participating in discussions in class or on the Canvas discussion board. I grade participation on a daily basis, as follows: check-plus for speaking up in class or on the discussion board (even to ask a question or to answer one of my questions incorrectly), check for showing up to class but not speaking, check-minus for not paying attention or coming in late, zero (0) for not coming to class at all.

2.         Response papers (20%). Throughout the semester you will write several 300-600-word papers responding to some of the assigned primary and secondary sources. More details to follow.

3.         Research paper (25%), due Monday, Nov. 24. In this paper (1500-2100 words) you will focus on a single Chinese painting, print, or photograph. More details to follow.

4.         First test (20%), due Monday, Nov. 3. This take-home test covers material from the units on The Early and Middle Ming Dynasty and The Ming-Qing Transition.

5.         Second test (20%), due Tuesday, Dec. 16, 4:30pm. This take-home test covers material from the units on The Qing Dynasty and The Early Republic and the P.R.C.


I am happy to meet with you outside of class during my office hours (see top of syllabus) or at another time that is convenient for you, in 208 Houghton House.  The best way to set up an appointment is by e-mail, but please note that I regularly read e-mail only between 9:00am and 4:30pm. If I need to contact students, I generally will do so via HWS e-mail and through Announcements on Canvas (see Websites below). You should develop the habit of checking both on a regular basis (I recommend doing so daily).


Attendance policy
I consider attendance at lectures to be mandatory. Asian art history is a challenging subject; don’t make it impossible by skipping class! That said, if you have a reasonable excuse for missing a class, I expect you to notify me as soon as possible—preferably in advance—and to turn in a one-page essay on the topics covered on the day of your absence, ideally within a week. Not doing so will directly impact your participation grade. If you are absent four times or more, you should be prepared for me to notify the Deans about your performance. I will be taking attendance regularly.

Attendance and Religious Holidays:
“The Colleges accept the responsibility of making available to each student who is absent from class because of religious obligations and practices an equivalent opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirement missed.”
Please inform me in advance of any religious holidays when you will be out of class. I do my best to avoid religious holidays with regard to due dates, but there are times when that is impossible.  Please talk to me if you have any difficulties!


Format for written work
One of the things you will learn in an art history class is the importance of presentation. This applies to your written work as well:

1. Type all work in a 12-point font.
2. Double-space.
3. Leave one-inch margins on all sides.
4. Number your pages.
5. Put your name and date on the first page.
6. Check that your spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct--these are crucial to effective communication of your ideas. I will lower your grade if you have excessive errors.
7. If you cite another source, use either parenthetical references or footnotes as explained in the Chicago Manual of Style, the documentation style typically used by art historians. (See A note about cheating and plagiarism below.)
8. Include pictures with captions if appropriate.

You can submit written work via Canvas. Please upload a Microsoft Word document (.doc, .docx), Rich Text Format file (.rtf), or a Portable Document Format file (.pdf): these are the only formats that Canvas will accept. Alternatively, you can turn in a stapled hard copy, plus copies of any earlier drafts, to me during the class period. PLEASE NOTE: I do not accept papers via e-mail.


A note about cheating and plagiarism
I will not tolerate any form of academic dishonesty. It destroys the trust that I have in you to do your best, it is unfair to the other students, and obviously you will not learn anything if you resort to cheating. If I find that you have cheated on a test or on a written assignment, you will receive a zero for the assignment and I will contact the Deans and/or the Committee on Standards about your case. I follow the recommendation of the Committee on Standards; if it also finds evidence of cheating or plagiarism, the recommendation is usually failure of the course at a minimum. See the Colleges’ Principle of Academic Integrity and General Academic Regulations ( and the Handbook of Community Standards (, pp. 38-40.

Now, just in case you are not clear about what plagiarism is: plagiarism is the use of someone else’s words or ideas without giving that person credit. In application, this means that in your writing assignments, you need to cite your sources. When quoting directly from a text—say, five words or more in succession—you need to put those words in quotation marks and include a parenthetical reference or footnote citing the source. When rewriting a passage from a text in your own words, you don’t need the quotation marks but you do still need the parenthetical reference or footnote. If you don’t understand exactly what constitutes plagiarism, or how to use parenthetical references or footnotes, please ask me. I would prefer to explain what it is and how to avoid it before it happens rather than after.


Tests and the research paper receive numerical grades. Class participation and response papers will receive a check-plus (95), check (85), check-minus (75), or zero (0). Make-up written assignments, which count as part of your participation grade, will receive a check or check-minus. If you are unsatisfied with a grade, please prepare a written statement explaining what grade you think you should have received and why, and submit it to me along with the assignment for review.

I mark down three points for each calendar day that an assignment is late. If you think you will need an extension, you should talk to me as early as possible.

My grading scale is as follows:



A+  97-100

A  93-97

A-  90-93



B+  87-90

B  83-87

B-  80-83



C+  77-80

C  73-77

C-  70-73



D+  67-70

D  63-67

D-  60-63




F  0-60



The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)
At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, we encourage you to seek the resources that will enable you to succeed. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is one of those resources: CTL programs and staff help you engage with your learning, accomplish the tasks before you, enhance your thinking and skills, and empower you to do your best. Resources at CTL are many: Study Mentors help you find more time and manage your responsibilities, Writing Fellows help you think well on paper, and professional staff members help you assess academic needs. 

I encourage you to explore these and other CTL resources designed to encourage your very best work. You can talk with me about these resources, visit the CTL office on the 2nd floor of the library to discuss options with the staff, or visit the CTL website at

The CTL resources of most use for this class include Teaching Fellows, Writing Fellows, and Study Mentors. CTL works with the Art & Architecture Department to offer one resource that will be essential to your learning in this course, the Art History Teaching Fellows. The Teaching Fellows are accomplished art history majors and minors who are now paid to assist other students. They hold regular study hours Sunday-Thursday (I will post this term’s hours as soon as they are available). To get the most out of this resource, I recommend that all students in this course begin attending the Teaching Fellow hours next week and attend once or twice weekly (to study, to ask questions) throughout the semester.


Disability accommodations
If you are a student with a disability for which you may need accommodations, you should self-identify and register for services with the Coordinator of Disability Services in the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and provide documentation of your disability. Disability-related accommodations and services generally will not be provided until the registration and documentation process is complete. The guidelines for documenting disabilities can be found at the following website:

Please direct questions about this process or Disability Services at HWS to David Silver, Coordinator of Disability Services, x3351.


There are two websites for this course: one at my homepage; and one at Canvas, This syllabus, paper assignments, and links to online resources for Asian art can be found at both. The Canvas site also has a course calendar, daily handouts, discussions, and an online gradebook; I plan to post presentations there as well.

To use Canvas, log in with your campus username and password. Once you have logged in, you should see, at the top left of the screen, a drop-down menu for courses you are enrolled in, as well as links to your assignments, grades, and calendar. At the top right, you should see links to your own Canvas inbox and your settings, as well as the Logout and Help links.

It is essential for you to get in the habit of logging into Canvas regularly, as one way I will communicate with the class is via Canvas announcements, and I will post assignments and other course materials there. If you click on the Settings link at the top right, you can set up Canvas to notify your e-mail or your cell phone about recent activity. I strongly recommend that you set Canvas to send you notifications of announcements ASAP. 

For further assistance with Canvas, click on the Help link at the top right, where “Search the Canvas Guides” is probably the most useful option. You should look for the relatively short Canvas Student Quickstart Guide (, the more thorough Canvas Student Guide (, and – for visually oriented people – the Canvas Video Guide ( Alternatively, contact the Help Desk of Instructional Technology at x4357 or The Help Desk is located in the Library on the first floor in the Rosensweig Learning Commons and is staffed by students as follows: until 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.