> So far as I know, the japanesse actually "stole" this art form from the
> Chinese. Japanese scholars travelled to China and came back with the
> techniques, and turned it into Sumi-e painting, and a couple of other
> styles. It is one of the "perfections", along with poetry and
Well, "stole" is a rather harsh term to use. My references say that
Buddhist priests from China brought the art to Japan, which adopted it
Bunki, I talked with the exchange student today. He brought a book with
comparisons between Chinese art and Western art. He still couldn't
explain how he can tell Chinese from Japanese brush painting, other than
he thinks the Japanese style is "simpler"--by which I think he means the
compositions tended to be simpler and less detailed. He also thinks the
Japanese faces are drawn more like cartoons. Mind you, this is a
teenager infatuated with the West, so he probably hasn't studied Asian
art with any great interest.
As we looked through a couple of my books together, we noted that the
Japanese scenes are often done from a high vantage point, with roofs
removed from interiors so the viewer can look down into the houses.
Here's a couple of quotes from one book:
"According to records, at least from the 8th century Chinese subjects
and scenes on screens were used to decorate and partition rooms at the
Imperial Palace...Secular paintings with Japanese themes and scenery
became increasingly popular in the 10th century...Stylistically,
both...derived from the same brightly pigmented and richly detailed
color painting tradition of Tang China."
"The Japanization of culture...is noticeable in all fields, especially
from the second half of the Heian period (794-1185)...in the ninth
century, the Japanese broke diplomatic relations with China. As a
result, although the Japanese still widely acknowledged the Chinese
contribution to their culture, they increasingly developed a deep-seated
pride in their own indigenous traditions. In the arts, a highly refined
aesthetic evolved that derived from a proufound appreciation of the
Japanese landscape and climate."
So, this is probably more than you really wanted to know, and doesn't
really answer your question. Could we infer that there's probably not
much difference stylistically, but in subject matter?