Zhang Yanyuan (simplified Chinese: 张彦远; traditional Chinese: 張彥遠; pinyin: Zhāng Yànyuǎn; Wade–Giles: Chang Yenyüan, ca. 815- ca. 877), courtesy name Aibin (爱宾), was a Chinese art historian, scholar, calligrapher and painter of the late Tang Dynasty.
Zhang was born to a high ranking family in present-day Yuncheng, Shanxi. He wrote several works about art and calligraphy, among them Fashu Yaolu (法書要錄, "Compendium of Calligraphy"), a collection of poems on color paper, and Lidai Minghua Ji (歷代名畫記, "Famous Paintings through History") - a general arts book, about the famous historical paintings. Zhang created his own style of art history writing, combining historical facts and art critic. His book also described the painter's lives thoroughly, including biography and works.
Zhang's art theory consists of several distinctive features: He agreed with the theory of Xie He that art had moral and political functions. Zhang also stressed the importance of originality and creativity in painting, opposing stereotyped painting styles. The painter's background also had a great influence on the painting.
- Xue, Yongnian, "Lidai Minghua Ji" ("Famous Paintings through History"). Encyclopedia of China, 1st ed.