Gai Wang
Translated and edited by Mai-mai Sze
Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1977, 1963, English; originally published in Chinese
Nonfiction, Art and Cultural History
ISBN: 9780691018195

Originally published as Volume 2 of The Tao of Painting, this is the first English translation of the Chinese handbook the “Chieh Tzu Yüan Hua Chuan” (1679–1701). Includes instructions, discussions of the fundamentals of painting, and notes on the preparation of colors.

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Diana Balmori

The Mustard Seed Garden of Painting is the most widely used handbook of painting in China. It is the most thorough and delightful work ever written on the discipline of an art form (in this case, Chinese painting), presented in a very clear and orderly manner. Landscape as a discipline has for a long time lacked discipline. This book, though at first glance about Chinese painting, is really about landscape and its portrayal. As in Europe in the 1600s, painting and landscape in China were intertwined, and the word “landscape” referred first to a painting of a landscape and later to the thing painted. So The Mustard Seed Garden of Painting is a rare and valuable dictionary of landscape forms as well as a detailed portrayal of the discipline dealing with those forms. A priceless observation is: “To be without method is deplorable, but to depend entirely on method is worse. The end of all method is to seem to have no method.”

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