Learning from Mt. Hua is a close study of a travelog written and illustrated by a late-fourteenth-century Chinese physician and amateur painter, Wang L. Transformed by the experience of scaling Mt. Hua, the Sacred Mountain of the West, Wang struggled to free himself from existing vocabularies of mountain forms and established conventions for travel painting. The final result is an album of forty unusual paintings and a moving travel record, translated here for the first time. Having reconstructed the original sequence of the paintings, Liscomb relates these landscapes to the travel record, helping the reader share Wang's experiences as he crosses treacherous chasms, visits famous Daoist temples, and analyzes geological lore. Wang L formulated his highly original ideas about painting in a preface accompanying the Mt. Hua album. Liscomb translates this and another of his essays on landscape painting in full and argues that it is necessary not only to analyze them in relation to contemporary and earlier art theories, but also in connection with Wang's writings as a medical scholar. The author interprets the responses of later critics, too, analyzing the factors in late Ming criticism that fostered and inhibited an understanding of Wang's ideas.
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