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The T’ang dynasty was the really vital period of Chinese Buddhism. Among the painters who gave it its highest expression Wu Tao-tzŭ holds first place. His memory dwells in history as that of one of the greatest masters in China and legend has still further enhanced the might of his genius. It is highly probable that his work is entirely destroyed, but by the aid of copies, incised stones and wood engravings of the twelfth century, an idea of the painter’s conception can be formed. He seems to have been the creator of a Chinese type of Kwanyin, the Buddhist incarnation of mercy and charity.

The T’ang period had been the golden age of Chinese poetry. It had witnessed an extraordinary outburst of religious fervor, and the overwhelming domination of Buddhism. It had, moreover, triumphantly re-established the unity of the empire and to the pride of intellectual activity it could add the pride of might and dominion. But the same cannot be said for the Sung period. From a political standpoint its history is one of cumulative disaster.

From the standpoint of civilization the Mongolian dynasty of Yüan brought nothing to China. On the contrary, the foreign elements were absorbed by the ancient culture for, in the final summing-up, the mind will always be stronger than weapons. From the standpoint of painting, however, this period has marked individuality.

by Raphael Petrucci

The Ming dynasty came into power on the wings of national feeling. China rallied her forces and expelled the foreign tyrants. Without doubt the nation cherished the illusion of rebuilding itself upon the model of the past, and the first emperors of the dynasty believed that the empire could be re-established upon an unshakable foundation. But the Ming dynasty, in reality, was but the heir and follower of Yüan. The latter itself had been only a connecting link.

A translator can have but one aim—to present the thought of the author faithfully. In this case an added responsibility is involved, since one who had so much to give to the world has been taken in his prime. M. Petrucci has written at length of art in the Far East in his exhaustive work La Philosophie de la Nature dans l’Art d’Extrême Orient and elsewhere, and has demonstrated the wide scope of his thought and learning.

The Ch’ing or Manchu dynasty, whose downfall we have recently witnessed, brought no new vigor to China. Barbarians once again invaded the aged and enfeebled empire usurping the methods, history and organization of the preceding periods. The change in China at the end of the seventeenth century was only dynastic.

In Raphael Petrucci, who died early in 1917, the world has lost one of the ablest and most devoted students and interpreters of the art of the Far East. He was only forty-five years of age, in the prime of his powers, brimming with energy and full of enterprises that promised richly. Though he did not die in the field, he was none the less a victim of the war. He had exhausted himself by his labours with the Belgian ambulances at La Panne, for Belgium was his adopted country.

[A] Now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss.

Whatever its outward expression, human thought remains essentially unchanged and, throughout all of its manifestations, is fundamentally the same. Varying phases are but accidents and underneath the divers wrappings of historic periods or different civilizations, the heart as well as the mind of man has been moved by the same desires.

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