The Case of Wang Yiting (1867-1938): A Unique Figure in Early Twentieth Century Chinese Art History

Siu, Fun Kee 蕭芬琪
Supervisor: Prof. Q.L. Wan

There has been little academic research conducted on Wang Yiting (Wang Zhen 王震, zi Yiting 一亭, hao Meihua Guanzhu ·梅華館主, Haiyun Louzhu 海雲樓主 and Bailong Shanren 白龍山人) and he does not occupy any major position of consequence in contemporary Chinese art history. The purpose of this thesis is to examine and analyze the available materials regarding Wang’s important achievements and contributions which made him a unique figure in the art field in his time.

For the sake of putting Wang’s life and art into the context of his era, this thesis begins with a general account of the time background, particularly the economic and artistic environment of Shanghai at the time. Included is a review of the existing literature which concluded that the existing materials have, on the whole, been recycled. It continues with a discussion of the development of Wang’ s artistic interest and his sponsorship and accumulation of power in the commercial, political and charitable fields, which enabled him to be a patron in the art circle. The next step is to review the development of art associations and Wang’s leadership in art associations. Afterwards, his support for the publications of art periodicals and assistance given to young artists to cope with the commercialization of art are explained. After that, the focus shifts to a discussion of the establishment of Wang’ s friendship with the Japanese and his role as a bridge for communication between the art fields of Shanghai and Japan. It continues with an examination of Wang’s significant contribution to the golden career of Wu Changshuo by highly recommending him to Japanese collectors. Then, Wang Yiting’s artistic development and establishment are thoroughly analyzed before, finally, an evaluation of his artistic contributions to the shanghai Painting School, especially concentrating on his endowment of a free painting style and his outstanding Buddhist images is made.

This thesis concludes that Wang Yiting has generally been under evaluated by art historians and he deserves a much greater position in contemporary Chinese art history.

Furthermore, ‘The Chronicle of Wang Yiting’s Life’ has been constructed and is attached to the thesis.