July 1, 2021
8:00 am – 10:00 am (Washington D.C.)
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (Paris)
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm (Beijing)

Shen, Yazhou

Researcher, Shanghai Museum
Distinguished Professor, Fudan University
Adjunct Professor, Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts
Researcher, Cultural Department, Chi Lin Nunnery, Hong Kong
Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Reproduction Intangible Cultural Heritage Inheritor

Techniques to Reproduce Ancient Chinese Calligraphy and Painting

1. Background

One way to learn Chinese calligraphy and painting is by copying or making reproductions. These methods have a long history of over 1,600 years and have played a very important role in the traditional practices of Chinese calligraphy and painting. Unlike Western practices, Chinese painting and calligraphy are often learned through imitation and copying.

Before the advent of printing, people who had to learn to spread the skills of calligraphy and painting could only rely on manually copying, tracing, writing, or inscribing. Many of the paintings and calligraphy that we consider national treasures today are reproductions of works from an earlier period. We call these works xia zhen ji yi deng (下真迹一等), “down one level from the original,” or “first-class authentic works.”

The techniques used to copy and reproduce have played a very important role in continuing the Chinese culture of calligraphy and painting. The tradition dates back to China’s Northern and Southern dynasties (317–589) and began with calligraphy, then gradually extended to paintings.

2. Techniques

One reproduction technique is double-contour outline copying, a process that starts when a work is outlined in light ink, and then a darker ink is used to fill in the outline. Some examples are the works by the Tang dynasty (618–907) artists Feng Rensu, Yu Shinan (558–638), and Chu Suiliang (596–658), who copied Wang Xizhi’s (ca. 303–ca. 361) Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion. Sang luan tie (丧乱帖), the “copy editions,” are all very intricate and charming, and show minute, fine details of the original. They are classic reproductions of the Wang School.

A second technique is overlay copying, in which a material is placed over the original work and a copy is made directly on top of the original. A third technique is a hybrid of the first two, in which a material is placed over the original work that is being copied and an outline is made. Most of the calligraphy works of Wang Xizhi we see today are done this way. Many copy editions were done during the period of China’s Tang and Song (960–1279) dynasties. Relatively few xia zhen ji yi deng (下真迹一等), or “copy-works,” used one technique alone.

3. Processes

I will describe how museums make reproductions as substitutes for displaying original works. It is very difficult to create these copy-works. From choosing the materials to the brushwork and inkwork, and from the composition to the process of aging the finished product, everything needs to imitate the original flavor.

The first step is to make a preparatory copy. For example, take a black-and-white photograph like in the old days, or make sketches and print copies. Step two is to choose the necessary materials. Step three is to apply the base/background color. Step four is to apply ink brushwork. Step five is to add color. Step six is to age the finish. Step seven is to copy the signature seal(s). Finally, step eight is to mount.

4. Roles/Applications

Copying has several extended utilities, including the copying of inscriptions or engravings, the copying and restoration of calligraphy and painting, copying and appraisal, and copying and appreciation.

5. Significance of Copying

Copying endures because it is the main method of learning Chinese painting and calligraphy. Its purposes are to protect original works, pass on the traditional skills and methods, pass on cultural heritage, and support cultural development.

6. Examples of Reproduction Works
7. Inheritance of Copying

Copying is a traditional technique that has been passed down in small cycles. In 2009, the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art began to offer classes on this topic. Now the culture of copying is passed on through education at universities and is now offered at Fudan University. I have worked in the Shanghai Museum for nearly 40 years, and I have long been engaged in the brushwork of copy reproduction and the restoration of painting and calligraphy. I have also trained many students and have a definitive teaching experience.


Professor Shen Yazhou was born in 1950 in Shanghai, China. His professional experience includes his roles as a specialist at the Shanghai Museum, a distinguished professor at Fudan University, an adjunct professor at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, a researcher of the Chi Lin Nunnery in Hong Kong, and a stalwart educator and “inheritor” of copy reproduction techniques. He entered the Shanghai Museum in 1972 and studied with Xu Yongqing, an expert of yang bang–style calligraphy and painting restoration. During his long-term leadership over the reproduction work and inpainting (repainting of missing image lines) of Chinese painting and calligraphy at the Shanghai Museum, he has researched various brush and ink techniques, tools and materials, mounting techniques, and reproduction methods of ancient painting and calligraphy. Professor Shen has a distinguished career working on the reproduction of Chinese calligraphy and paintings in museums and in art institutions in Shanghai and in Hong Kong.










第一步就是准备画稿(早期的黑白照片、勾摹稿、现在的打印稿)。第二步是选择材料. 第三步是染底色. 第四步是勾墨稿. 第五步是上色. 第六步是做旧.做旧的手法有刷,有染,有全,有刮,有磨,有搓等等,每个人的方法都是不同的,选择的材料也会不一样,但是追求的目的是一致的. 第七步是仿制图章。第八步装裱。


1:摹搨与碑刻 2:摹搨与书画修复 3:摹搨与鉴定 4:摹搨与鉴赏


1:保护作用 2:技法的传承 3:文化的传承 4:文化的种子基因库




沈亚洲,1950年出生,上海人。上海博物馆专家,复旦大学特聘教授,上海视觉艺术学院兼职教授, 香港志莲净苑文化部研究院, 摹搨技艺非遗传承人。1972年进入上海博物馆,师从扬帮书画修复专家徐又青,由于长期负责的上海博物馆书画临摹与书画修复的接笔工作,对古代书画的各种笔墨技法,工具材料,装裱技术及历代书画的作伪方法颇有研究。

Sooa Im McCormick 任秀娥, PhD.

Curator of Korean Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-1797

Korean Paper: From Tributary Gift to Trendy Commodity in Late Ming Literati Circles

All wars result in a significant loss of life, economic destruction, and human dislocation, but they also lead to opportunities for unexpected cultural and material transfers. A variety of Korean papers, including Mirror Surface Paper (鏡面紙) and White Silky Paper (白綿紙), were among staple tributary gifts to the Ming imperial court, but during the Japanese invasion (1592–1598), they were in even greater demand than before. These imported Korean papers were not exclusively used in the imperial court, but soon gained a new identity as a trendy commodity when they entered the circle of leading literati artists such as Dong Qichang (1555–1636).

By locating Korean paper in the material world of late Ming period literati artists, this research attempts to uncover how gift exchange in a tributary system between China and Korea fashioned new artistic identities from Korean paper, and to examine what material features of Korean paper led late Ming artists to incorporate it in their artistic endeavors. Finally, this research will challenge the conventional framework of China as influencer and Korea as influenced, highlighting the role of Korean imports in Chinese visual and material culture.


Sooa Im McCormick is curator of Korean art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. McCormick holds a PhD from the University of Kansas and master’s degree from Rutgers University. Recently, she curated the exhibitions Interpretation of Materiality: Gold (April 30, 2021–October 24, 2021) and Gold Needles: Korean Embroidery Arts (March 8, 2020–October 25, 2020). While pursuing her curatorial career, McCormick remains a cutting-edge scholar who explores the relationship between environmental/ecological changes and the arts. Her publications include “Re-Reading the Imagery of Tilling and Weaving of Eighteenth-Century Korean Genre Painting in the Context of the Little Ice Age” in Mountains and Rivers (without) End: Eco-Art History in East and Southeast Asia (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019) and “The Politics of Frugality: Environmental Crisis and Eighteenth-Century Korean Visual Culture” in Forces of Nature (Cornell University Press, 2022).

Sooa Im McCormick 任秀娥, PhD.

Curator of Korean Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-1797

조선의 종이: 조공품에서 명말 문인들의 기호품으로

전쟁은 막대한 인명과 경제적 손실을 끼치는 재난이지만, 새로운 문화를 전달, 전파하는 기회가 만들어지는 계기를 만들기도 한다. 경면지(鏡面紙)와 백면지 (白綿紙)와 같은 조선에서 생산된 종이는 명 황실에 선물된 조공품 중 하나였다. 흥미롭게도 종이의 생산이 극히 힘들었던 임진왜란 중 종이에 대한 명 황실의 요구는 줄지 않았고, 오히려 더욱 높아졌다. 조선의 종이는 명 황실에서만 소비되지 않았고, 고위 관료로 활동했던 동기창과 같은 작가들을 중심으로, 문인화 작화 활동에 필요한 기호품로 새로운 정체성을 갖게 되었고, 많은 작품에서 사용되었음을 확인할 수 있다.

본 연구는 조선의 종이를 명말 문인 예술계 속의 위치시켜 논의함으로써, 조공 체계 속에서 이루어지는 조선과 명의 선물 교환을 통해 어떻게 조선 종이가 명말 문인화단에서 새로운 정체적을 획득하게 되었는지, 조선 종이의 어떠한 물질적 특징이 명말 문인화들이 창작 활동에 도움을 주었는지, 그리고 이를 통해 중국의 시각, 물질 문화는 영향을 주는, 한국은 영향을 받는 관계라는 기존의 고착화된 기존의 담론을 재고찰하고자 한다.


임수아 박사는 클리블랜드 미술관의 한국 미술 학예 연구사로, 캔자스 주립대학에서 18세기 한, 중 궁중 기록화 비교 연구로 박사 학위를, 랏거스 대학에서 미술사 석사학위를 받았다. 최근 기획한 전시로는 “물질성의 해석: 금 (4/30/2021-10/24/2021)” 과 “황금 바늘: 한국의 자수 미술 (3/8/2020-10/25/2020)” 이 있다. 학예사로서의 활동 이외에도, 환경과 미술의 교차점을 연구하는 학자로 활발한 활동을 하고 있다. 최근의 연구로는 “소빙하기로 맥락에서 본 18세기 경직도 이미지 다시 읽기” 와 “검소의 정치학: 환경적 재난과18세기 조선의 시각 문화” 이 있다.