The Songchao minghua ping 宋朝名畫評 "A critique on famous Song period paintings", also called Shengchao minghua ping 聖朝名畫評 "Critique on famous paintings of Our Holy dynasty", is a critique on paintings of the early Song period 宋 (960-1279). The 3 juan "scrolls" long book was written by Liu Daochun 劉道醇 and was planned as a continuation to Zhu Jingxuan's 朱景玄 book Tangchao minghua lu 唐朝名畫錄. It is divided into six chapters reflecting different genres or objects. The painters mentioned in these categories are ranked according to three grades of profession (pin 品), namely "divine" (shen 神), "extraordinary" (miao 妙), and "professional" (neng 能). Each of these grades is divided into three sub-grades. The book provides biographic and professional information about 110 persons. The ranking was decided according to the "six prerequisites" (liuyao 六要) and the "six strengths" (liuchang 六長). The six prerequisites were to unite spirit with force (qiyun jian li 氣韻兼力), to adapt all methods to the old (gezhi ju lao 格制俱老), to reconcile changes and differences (bianyi he li 變異合理), to bring colours to brilliance (caihua you ze 彩繪有澤), to make movements natural (qulai ziran 去來自然), and to make the strong points guide the weaker (shichang she duan 師長舍短). The six strengths were to paint even vulgar things (culu qiu bi 粗鹵求筆), to turn the disgressive into talent (pise qiu cai 僻澀求才), to transform trifles into power (xiqiao qiu li 細巧求力), to bring order into the weird (kuangguai qiu li 狂怪求理), to bring colour into the pale (wumo qiu ran 無墨求染), and to make strong out of the average (pinghua qiu chang 平畫求長).
Liu Daochun was the first to concretely develop arguments for a certain critique that are explicitly described in the preface. For each genre or object, different criteria were to be observed. For a Buddhist monk, the picture of a Arhat, that of a Daoist priest, normal persons, animals or grass, impression and appearance had to fit with the content.
The Songchao minghua ping is included in the reprint series Wangshi shuhua yuan 王氏書畫苑本 and Siku quanshu 四庫全書.
Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1799. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
1 人物門 Renwu Portraits|
2 山水林木門 Shanshui linmu Landscape and trees
3 畜獸門 Chushou Mammals
4 花卉翎毛門 Huahui lingmao Flowers and birds
5 鬼神門 Guishen Ghosts and gods
6 屋木門 Wumu Buildings