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Anhui school [Chin. Xin’an pai]locked

  • James Cahill

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[Chin. Xin’an pai]

Term used to refer to a group of painters, mostly landscapists, active in Anhui Province chiefly in the second half of the 17th century, early in the Qing period (1644–1911). The Chinese name refers to the region of Xin’an in south-eastern Anhui, where the artists were mostly concentrated. Anhui was prominent in the production of craft and trade goods, including paper, lacquer, brushes and ink-cakes, before it became a centre for painters. From the early 17th century the finest woodblock cutting and printing were done here, rivalled only by nearby Nanjing. Some Anhui artists of the late Ming (1368–1644), notably Ding Yunpeng, contributed designs for pictorial prints, and the spare, precise linear patterns of Anhui printing must have been a factor behind the popularity of related painting styles among local artists (see also China, People’s Republic of, §XIV, 21).

Another important factor in the formation of the school and the stylistic direction it took was the patronage of the wealthy Huizhou merchants, who by the late Ming period controlled most of the commerce in the lower Yangzi River area. Their passion for collecting antiquities, especially works of calligraphy and painting by prestigious masters of the past, is attested in writings of their time; the prices paid for certain kinds of paintings by respected literati masters of the Yuan (...

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