How to Read Chinese Paintings

Maxwell K. Hearn’s How to Read Chinese Paintings (2008, Yale University Press) uses numerous paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to share the genre of scholar-official painting that many Westerners have enjoyed viewing without always knowing their symbolism. Subjects such as horses, bamboo, pine trees, and landscape paintings are familiar subjects yet their symbolism can invoke correct treatment of scholar-officials, resilience, loyalty and Taoism among others. Hearn writes that the Chinese words du hua, meaning “to read a painting,” typify the Chinese approach to unraveling the work of scholar-official painters. Continue reading “How to Read Chinese Paintings”