Published: Sept. 6, 2022

Peter Sturman: Visiting Art History Scholar
Lecture: Exile and Redemption—The Strange Case of the Poetic Ideas Scroll

Wednesday, October 19 at 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Norlin Library, Center for British & Irish Studies (room M549)
1157 18th Street, Boulder, CO 80309

About the lecture: The Poetic Ideas scroll has long posed a mystery. Consisting of two unsigned paintings of a riverside landscape and twin wintry trees, early colophon writers attributed the compositions to two scions of famous families: Sima Huai, descendant of the statesman Sima Guang (1019-1086), and Mi Youren (1074-1151), whose father was the well-known calligrapher and connoisseur Mi Fu (1052-1107). But who painted which? And what are we to make of the choice of poetic lines by the famous Tang dynasty poet Du Fu (712-770) that served as the impetus for the two images? In this presentation, Peter Sturman demonstrates how the paintings were part of a carefully constructed program integrating text and images to comment on the fate of family legacies in the fraught world of late Northern Song politics. Through the Poetic Ideas scroll, we gain an important glimpse into the sophisticated world of early literati painting in China.

About: Peter Sturman (Yale University PhD, 1989) is Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He specializes in the study of Chinese painting, calligraphy, and text-image relationships during the medieval and early modern periods. His primary focus is on literati culture of the Northern Song and its immediate aftermath, though he has also published on landscape painting of the tenth and eleventh centuries, court art of the late Northern Song, loyalist art of the Song-Yuan transition, and painting and calligraphy of the seventeenth century. Book-length publications include Mi Fu: Style and the Art of Calligraphy in Northern Song China (1997) and The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in 17th-Century China (2012). His current projects are a book on Northern Song literati painting titled Form and Shadow: Painting and the Literary Mind in Song-Dynasty China, and a study of the calligraphy of the Ming-dynasty polymath Xu Wei (1520-1593).