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Yuantihua

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  • Chinese/Japanese: 院体画 (yuàn tǐ huà / intaiga)

Yuàntǐhuà was the chief style of academic or court painting in Song Dynasty China, and remained highly regarded and canonical into the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

This style is most strongly associated with the Hanlin Painting Academy (翰林図画院, Hànlín túhuà yuàn), a bureau within the Hanlin Academy, the chief group of scholar-officials in service to the court. The court's maintenance of a set group of official court painters began in the Tang Dynasty, but it was in the Song that this academy became truly set, and canonical, setting the foundations for what would be known as the "Northern School" and "Southern School" of Chinese painting through to today. The Northern School, epitomized by the period under Emperor Huizong (r. 1101-1125) of the Northern Song Dynasty, is known especially for its highly colorful and naturalistic birds and flowers paintings, while the Southern School, developed under his son, Emperor Gaozong (r. 1127-1162) of the Southern Song Dynasty, is known for monochrome ink landscapes. Especially representative of Song dynasty Southern School landscapes are those of Ma Yuan, Xia Gui, and their followers, who employed large areas of void or negative space; thick, angular, outlines; and axe-cut texture effects on the rocks.

The academic style lost favor and support in the Yuan Dynasty, and all but died out, but was revived in the Ming. Members of the Zhe school of painting were particularly influential in this revival.

Song dynasty paintings in the academic style, including works by Liang Kai, Emperor Huizong, Li Tang, Ma Yuan, and Xia Gui, were profoundly influential in the development of Muromachi period ink painting in 14th century Japan, and works of the Zhe school a century or so later notably influenced the Japanese masters Sesshû and his contemporaries. The Kanô school, which became Japan's canonical "academic" style in the 16th-17th centuries, also owes much to Chinese yuàntǐhuà foundations.

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