Substantial Contribution to Chinese Art

Richard M. Barnhart -- Professor, Yale University

The magnificent series of facsimile reproductions of the great masterpieces of Chinese painting and calligraphy from the National Palace Museum that Nigensha Publishing Company has been producing is now approaching three hundred in number. It constitutes the most significant body of superb reproductions of China's graphic art that exists anywhere in the world. This continuing series of reproductions has appeared at exactly the time during which concern for the preservation of ancient calligraphy and painting is making it more and more difficult for most people ever to see the actual original masterpieces of Chinese art history. It is highly likely that in the future all of us will be deeply dependent upon Nigensha's technology and skill for our very knowledge of such awesome works of art as Fan K'uan's "Travellers among Mountains and Streams" and Kuo Hsi's "Early Spring." It is therefore with the keenest appreciation of their contribution to the knowledge and enjoyment of Chinese painting and calligraphy that I salute Nigensha's achievement. I predict that some years hence, owning one of Nigensha's facsimile reproductions of "Early Spring" will be as close as most of us can aspire to actually possessing a Sung landscape painting.

High-level Appreciation Made Possible

James Cahill -- Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Nigensha's project for producing a set of facsimile reproductions of masterworks of Chinese painting and calligraphy in the greatest of collections, the National Palace Museum in Taipei, is to be welcomed by all lovers of these arts. For those of us who teach, these full-size, extraordinarily faithful re-creations will serve to reveal both the power and the nuances of these works to our students better than we have been able to do with most hitherto-available reproductions. For those who want to enjoy these superb works of art in their homes, the facsimiles will allow new levels of appreciation.

Chinese painting, in its special materials and forms, lends itself better to reproduction than do Occidental oil paintings. At the same time, its tonal nuances and subtleties of brushwork require the most sensitive techniques of printing if they are to be adequately conveyed. Nigensha's newly- developed methods, which approximate closely even the paper tone and silk ground on which the originals were painted, fulfill excellently these requirements. The selection of paintings and works of calligraphy reproduced includes many of the finest surviving works of the major Sung and later masters, and thus provides a quite satisfactory survey of this great tradition.

Irresistible Appeal of Precise Reproductions

Richard Edwards -- Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan

To my knowledge, the collection of painting and calligraphy in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, a collection which came originally from the Emperors of the Ch'ing dynasty, still remains the single most important group of Chinese works in the world today. It is thus especially important that there be a continuing effort to reproduce masterpieces from it with as great accuracy as possible.

Nigensha Publishing Company in collaboration with the National Palace Museum in Taipei is doing just that. Of the reproductions currently available, one can affirm that the choice is, by and large, excellent. Scholars familiar with Chinese painting will certainly recognize them and, I believe, universally approve of the selection as indicating many key "moments" in the history of Chinese art. They form a group which merits wider popularity.

The publishers have made every effort to bring the latest technology of reproduction to bear on this significant task, and thus assure that these facsimiles will be as close as possible to the original works. They have been particularly successful in catching the nuances of inkvalues, the quality of brushwork itself, which lies at the heart of an understanding of Chinese painting and calligraphy. Such works will come, I believe, closer to the originals than anything so far attempted. From what I have seen, they deserve wide circulation in an effort to promote an accurate familiarity with a unique artistic heritage.

Unequalled Verisimilitude to the Originals

Roger Goepper -- Professor, Art Historical Institute, University of Cologne

During my stay in Taiwan in autumn 1978, when I was a guest of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, I had the opportunity to watch one of the corrections by a delegation from Nigensha in connection with their large project of reproducing major works of calligraphy and painting in facsimile. A group of specialists, including printers and scientists, were comparing the originals with the proofs of the Nigensha reproductions, printed in original size on different kinds of paper, some of which had been specially developed for this project. I was able to take part and listen to the lengthy discussions, which took place in front of some of the most famous Chinese paintings and their reproductions. Each detail was carefully compared. Colour variations and degrees of intensity were most carefully checked. Some of the different printed versions had already reached such a degree of perfection that, to my eyes, there was hardly any difference to the original to be seen. Still the printers were not content and corrected several places. The final results, which I could compare with some samples, are really so close to the original that these reproductions can serve all purposes of scientific studies for scholars and students who do not have the possibility to examine the original in detail.

The Glories of the World's Art

Lothar Ledderose --- Professor, Art Historical Institute, University of Heidelberg

All over the world Japanese bookmaking and reproduction techniques have long been admired and respected because of their excellent quality. The innovative and sophisticated process that has now been devised by Nigensha Publishing Co., Ltd. is another landmark in the history of printing and sets a new standard for the reproduction of Chinese paintings and calligraphy. Not only do the shades of the ink become visible in exquisite gradation, but also the appearance of the original surface is rendered in an amazingly convincing manner. The consistency of paper and silk, the different kinds of material, the patches, and even the way in which the ink sinks into the surface, all these are preserved in the reproduction.

The collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei is the largest and most important single collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy in the world, and it is therefore appropriate that some of its important masterworks should be reproduced in this superb technique. The selection of the pieces is excellent, ranging in time from the fourth to the eighteenth centuries. They represent highlights of Chinese art, and indeed of world art. Everybody will therefore welcome these new reproductions of unprecedented quality.

Miraculous Identicalness with the Originalst

Michael Sullivan -- Former Professor, University of Stanford, California

The great masterpieces of Western art are well known to people in the West, either through reproductions or through having seen them in museums and galleries. The art of the Far East has always been much less accessible: indeed there is hardly a single masterpiece of Far Eastern art that the average educated Westerner could identify. The reason for this is simply that the Westerner has no opportunity to see these works, or if he does see is only in small reproductions that convey little sense of the originals. So there has long been a need for facsimile reproductions of the great Oriental works that give the viewer the sense of being in contact with the actual painting, in its original size, colour and texture.

Now at last that has become possible with the publication by the Nigensha Publishing Company of facsimile reproductions of masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy and painting in the Palace Musuem, Taipei. The fact that the reproductions are the exact size of the originals -- Huang Kung- wang's handscroll "Dwelling in the Fu-ch'un Mountains," for example, is reproduced in its full length of over six meters -- and that the texture of the original paper and silk is miraculously conveyed, with all the subtlety of colour and range of ink tone, means that the viewer will be getting an experience almost as satisfying as looking at the originals themselves.

These reproductions therefore are a major contribution to closing the gap between the works and their potential viewers, and at last make them accessible to a wide public. I hope that the project receives the welcome it deserves, and that this will lead to the issuing by Nigensha of further sets of the same quality.

(C) Chinese Art Net