Guo Xi's Early Spring

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Early Spring, done in 1072, is considered one of the great masterpieces of the Northern Song monumental landscape tradition.  It is a rare example of an early painting executed by a court professional who signed and dated his work.  


How do man and nature relate to each other within the landscape?  

Guo Xi (ca. 1020-1090), Early Spring, dated 1072                        source


Guo Xi developed  a strategy of depicting multiple perspectives called "the angle of totality." Because a painting is not a window, there is no need to imitate the mechanics of vision and view a scene from only one spot.  




Like most Song landscapists, Guo Xi used texture strokes to build up credible, three-dimensional forms.  Strokes particular to his style include those on "cloud- resembling" rocks, and the "devil's face texture stroke," which is seen in the somewhat pock-marked surface of the larger rock forms.








Guo Xi's paintings often contained three types of trees. The lesser, bending trees Guo Xi described anthropomorphically as  holding one's creeds within oneself; the crouching, gnarled trees were seen analogous to an individual clinging to his own virtues; and the vertical trees were compared to those individuals who remain abreast of their environmental conditions (politics) and flourish.