Research Paper Proposal – Question 4

Question 4: Compare landscape painting by Guo Xi’s with woodblock print of Mt. Fuji by Hokusai. Consider the following in your discussion: patrons, producers, materials, production, function, and meanings.


Landscape painting is the amalgamation of the artist’s expression of his accumulated experiences in nature and his philosophical view towards the natural world which is richly symbolic as he depicts what the landscape personally embodies for him. The scenery painted often leaves the audiences to ponder in their own imagination as they wish which could provide metaphors for life.

Purpose/General Function/Buildup?

Landscape painting serves as a form of meditative art whereby viewers can get immersed into the art as the artwork takes you through on a journey of the serenity of nature, leaving the viewers with their own imagination to interpret the artwork which could relieve emotional stress, hence separating them from truth and reality momentarily as a way to escape from their daily lives, thus leaving the viewers feeling spiritually refreshed.

Tentative Claim

Figure 1 Old Trees, Level Distance, Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), ca. 1080 Guo Xi (Chinese, ca 1000-ca. 1090); Handscroll; ink and color on silk 13 ¾ x 41 ¼ in. (34.9 x 104.8cm); Source: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Guo Xi’s landscape painting is mostly illustrated with the intent to depict a form of realism whereby he studies the nature elements such as mountains, greenery and lifeforms which he then transfers onto silk and paper marked with a Xuanhe zhongbi seal as seen in Fig 1. Old Trees, Level Distance just as the way he sees it. However, besides the idea of just realism in which he paints in a manner that does not challenge the laws of perspectives, Guo Xi’s intent to show the form of idealism is present as well in his work as he creates multiple perspectives which he calls ‘the angle of totality.’.

Figure 2 Figure 2 Early Spring, Hanging Figure 2 Early Spring, Hanging Scroll , Gui Xi (1010-1090) Ink on Silk. Source: GI

For instance, as seen in Fig 2. Early Spring, Hanging Scroll, we can observe that he attempted to paint the ideal landscape of a Taoist paradise by illustrating a somewhat smoky environment which is idealised to be mythical and powerful for the deities. Also, by including all angles of the mountain which defies the rule of perspective, this painting reeks of idealism. Hence, it is evident that Guo Xi’s painting style treads on both realism and idealism at the same time. – Evidence

  • Talk about who are the donors that commissioned Guo Xi to complete these artworks
    – Guo Xi was a scholar-official, a well-educated painter, likely to be commissioned by the Court/Emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty
  • What’s the purpose of this production
    – The purpose of these paintings were targeted for officials who cannot leave to visit the real landscapes.
  •  State the materials and medium briefly
    – Ink and Colour on Silk


Figure 3 The Cushion Pine at Aoyama in Edo- Katsushika Hokusai’s ukiyo-e print, Katsushika Hokusai Edo period (1615–1868) ca. 1830–32 Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper 9 5/8 x 14 3/4 in. (24.4 x 37.5 cm) Source: Henry L. Phillips Collection, Bequest of Henry L. Phillips, 1939

Fig. 3 The Cushion Pine at Aoyama in Edo is one out of thirty-six views of a series that shows the sacred Mount Fuji, produced by Katsushika Hokusai in 1830 when he was seventy years old as he reached the crescendo of his creativity and artistic vigour.


Figure 4 Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei) Edo period (1615–1868) ca. 1830–32 Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper 10 1/8 x 14 15/16 in. (25.7 x 37.9 cm) Source: H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929

Description of Under the Wave off Kanagawa

  • Talk about who are the donors that commissioned them(patrons) to complete these two artwork and,
  • why both the artworks are produced(function)?
  • Compare their materials and medium briefly
  • *Talk about Katsushika Hokusai’s style – juxtaposition and linear perspective

Envisioned Paragraphs

  • Acknowledgement of some similarities in subject matter, degree of realism and medium.
  • Comparison of different style about Guo Xi’s realism + idealism(multiple angles) VS Hokusai’s realism + idealism (Juxtaposition/Linear perspective/Oblique angle/near and far)
  • Discuss whether both paintings serves the same/different purpose (Guo Xi’s targeting officials VS Hokusai’s personal facisnation with Mt Fuji and response to the domestic travel boom)
  • Possible meanings of the painting?