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This book is the first careful study of Tang Hou and his Huajian. It provides a reconstruction of Tang Hou’s biography, political career, and his associations with the early Yuan elite and important figures, and further situates not only his equality with the most respected artistic advocators and leaders of his own time, but also his significance in the study of Chinese painting of the Yuan and beyond. In addition, this study also sheds light on the artistic context of the time in which Tang Hou’s artistic criteria developed, the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century China. This clarification of Tang Hou’s artistic milieu context and his Huajian contributes to modern scholarship by providing a careful assessment of Tang Hou’s thinking about and taste in paintings which, in turn, readjusts our perception of the painting developments in the Yuan.


“The short eighty-nine year long Yuan period was one of the richest moments in the history of Chinese painting. One measure of its complex legacy is an art historical debate about its details and general character that continues to this day ... Through her translation and study of one of the most concise and systematic texts about painting written at that time, the author greatly enriches the dialogue and furthers the debate over such matters ... With this volume, two of the three great biographical / connoisseurial texts of the Yuan have now been translated into English together with thoughtful, thorough studies of their significance to our own understanding of Chinese art.” – (from the Preface) Jerome Silbergeld, P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History, Princeton University

“This manuscript is a throwback to the kind of publication that was once much more common in the Chinese art history field (and, for that matter, the humanities in general) ... it provides an introduction and annotated English translation of an important historical text ... The translation of the text itself is judicious and painstakingly annotated ... While remaining faithful to the semantic nuances of the original text, the translator manages to imbue it with an equivalent tone and individuation in the English language. The act of bringing to life a difficult treatise on Chinese painting through translation can also illuminate a significant chapter in its history ... [this work] is almost certain to find its way onto the shelves of every curator and Chinese art historian of any ambition.” – Yukio Lippit, Assistant Professor of Japanese Art, Harvard University

“This research is an excellent and eminently publishable piece of work about a scholar and a text of considerable stature and importance at a critical time in the history of Chinese painting ... Only short extracts from Tang Hou’s Huajian has been translated and published in English until now. There has been no thorough investigation or critical evaluation of his book and the influence that it had on his contemporaries and followers ... this study will be warmly welcomed by scholars of Chinese art and historians of the Yuan dynasty.” – Roderick Whitfield, Emeritus Professor of Chinese and East Asian Art, University of London

Table of Contents

Preface by Jerome Silbergeld
1. Biographies of Tang Hou and His Father, Tang Binglong
2. The History of the Text Editions and Structure of the Huajian and Its Influence
3. Reevaluating the Contribution of the Huajian
4. Conclusions
Text Translation
Appendices 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Bibliography of Primary Sources
Bibliography of Secondary Literature

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