How to Read Chinese Paintings

How-to-Read-Chinese-Paintings-922x550 How to Read Chinese Paintings
How-to-Read-Chinese-Paintings-787x1024 How to Read Chinese Paintings

The Chinese often use the expression du hua, “to read a painting,” in connection with their study and appreciation of such works. This volume closely “reads” thirty-six masterpieces of Chinese painting from the encyclopedic collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to reveal the major characteristics and themes of this rich pictorial tradition. The book examines multiple layers of meaning―style, technique, symbolism, past traditions, and the artist’s personal circumstances―through accessible texts and numerous large color details. A dynastic chronology, map, and list of further readings supplement the text.


Spanning a thousand years of Chinese art, these landscapes, flowers, birds, figures, religious subjects, and calligraphies illuminate the main goal of every Chinese artist: to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but also its inner essence.

Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Reviews:Editorial Reviews on Amazon wrote:

"This volume . . . visually analyzes thirty-six paintings and calligraphies in an effort to 'reveal' what makes them 'masterpieces.' Lavishly illustrated and eminently informative."—Art Times

"This text will be valuable to anyone wishing to know more about one of the great painting traditions, and could be used in the classroom."―Reference & Research Book News

About the Author

Maxwell K. Hearn is Douglas Dillon Curator, Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Metropolitan Museum of Art; Illustrated edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 184 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0300141874
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0300141870
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.37 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 9.3 x 0.7 x 12 inches

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