Zhang Zeduan (simplified Chinese: 张择端; traditional Chinese: 張擇端; pinyin: Zhāng Zéduān; Wade–Giles: Chang Tse-tuan; 1085–1145), alias Zheng Dao, was a famous Chinese painter of the Song Dynasty. He lived during the transitional period from the Northern Song to the Southern Song, and was instrumental in the early history of the Chinese landscape art style known as shan shui.
Zhang was a native of Dongwu (present Zhucheng, Shandong). He was a court painter of the Northern Song Dynasty, and in the aftermath of that dynasty's fall, his paintings often conveyed criticisms of the social circumstances of the time.
Zhang Zeduan's most famous painting is Along the River During the Qingming Festival, a wide handscroll which depicts life in a city. This painting was made famous throughout China, as an emperor of the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) felt compelled to write a poem in praise of the artwork. A popular remake of the painting was made in the 18th century, during the Qing Dynasty.
In terms of historical significance, Zhang's original painting of the Along the River During the Qingming Festival reveals much about life in China during the 11th-12th century. Its myriad depictions of different people interacting with one another reveals the nuances of class structure and the many hardships of urban life as well. It also displays accurate depictions of technological practices found in Song China. For example, it depicts one river ship lowering its bipod mast before passing under the prominent bridge of the painting. It shows ships in two major types, yet all of which have slung rudders for steering; the painting depicts freighters with narrow sterns or passenger boats and smaller craft with broad sterns, sailing upriver or docked along the banks while loading and unloading goods. Large stern sweeps and bow sweeps can be seen on at least three of the river ships, worked by up to eight men each. It also shows how personal gardens had begun to take root in China—in addition to the immense walled garden on the far left of the scroll, for example, one sees several private gardens with their man-made mountains and rockery (for example, the small private garden close to the city gate, squeezed between a chemist's shop and a large building selling furniture, consisting of a small pond surrounded by trees and bamboo).
- China Online Museum, article on Zhang Zeduan
- Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 463.
- Needham, Joseph (1971). Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 4, Physics and Physical Technology, Part 3, Civil Engineering and Nautics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Zhang Zeduan and his Painting Gallery at China Online Museum
- Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632-1717), an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Zhang Zeduan (see index)
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