Wu Daozi (or Wu Tao-tzu) (simplified Chinese: 吴道子; traditional Chinese: 吳道子; pinyin: Wú Dàozǐ; Wade–Giles: Wu Tao-tzu; 680–760?), later 道玄 (Daoxuan), was a Chinese artist of the Tang Dynasty. Michael Sullivan considers him one of "the masters of the seventh century,"  Some of his works survive; many, mostly murals, have been lost.
Wu traveled widely and created murals in Buddhist and Daoist temples. Wu also drew mountains, rivers, flowers, birds. No authentic works are extant, though some exist in later copies or stone carvings. Wu's famous painting of Confucius was preserved by having been copied in a stone engraving.
Legends and modern reputation
One myth follows the creation by Wu Daozi of a mural commissioned by Emperor Xuanzong of Tang China. The mural on the wall of the palace portrayed a rich nature-scene set in a valley, containing a stunning array of flora and fauna. Wu Daozi had painted a cave at the foot of a mountain. The story goes that he clapped his hands and entered the cave, inviting the Emperor to follow. The painter entered the cave but the entrance closed behind him, and before the astonished emperor could move or utter a word, the painting had vanished from the wall.
Another legend has it that a painter found one of the last surviving murals of Wu Daozi, learned to imitate the style, and then destroyed the wall, possibly by pushing it into a river. This was to ensure that nobody else besides him could imitate the style of the great Wu Daozi.
- Chinese Landscape Painting: The Sui and T'ang Dynasties. (Berkeley: University of California press, 1980. ISBN 0520035585), pp. 50-52.
- James Cahill. An Index of Early Chinese Painters and Paintings: T'ang, Sung, and Yüan. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. ISBN 0520035763), pp. 21-22.
- A version of this story appears in Herbert Allen Giles. An Introduction to the History of Chinese Pictorial Art. (London: Quaritch, 2d ed., 1918), pp. 47-48.
- Sven Lindqvist, translated by Joan Tate. The Myth of Wu Tao-Tzu. (1967; rpr. London: Granta, 2012. ISBN 9781847085221).
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