CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
Nos. 30/31, June/September 2012


The 1935 London International Exhibition of Chinese Art:
The China Critic Reacts

Fan Liya 範麗雅
Doctoral Candidate
University of Tokyo

This essay explores how modern Chinese intellectuals, including Sun Fo (孫科, 1891-1973), Cai Yuanpei (蔡元培, 1968-1940) and writers of The China Critic group, reacted to the 1935-1936 International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London. In particular I highlight the literary activities of Lin Yutang (林語堂, 1895-1976), John C.H. Wu (呉經熊, 1899-1986) and Wen Yüan-ning (温源寧, 1899-1984) following the 'Manchuria Incident' 満州事変 of September 1931 and during the Exhibition. These writers supported Sun and Cai by founding T'ien Hsia Monthly 天下月刊 (published 1935-1941), an English-language journal that has featured in China Heritage Quarterly since September 2009.[1]

The London International Exhibition of Chinese Art

Following the abdication of the last Qing emperor in 1912, parts of the imperial art collection, which had been concealed behind the walls of the Forbidden City and at various imperial residences for centuries, were revealed to the outside world for the first time. Of the many works of art that were disposed of following the collapse of the dynasty and that circulated in the international art market, some found their way to Japan and the West. With the establishment of the Palace Museum in 1925, foreign art collectors became more familiar with China's national treasures, and a new enthusiasm for Chinese art began to take hold. At the end of 1932, a group of British collectors led by Sir Percival David (1892-1964), an aristocratic banker and admirer of Oriental art, proposed to hold a comprehensive exhibition of Chinese art in London. Formal negotiations for such an exhibition were undertaken with the Chinese government in 1934, and after lengthy deliberation, the Chinese Ministry of Education, the government body responsible for organizing national cultural events, decided to participate. Chinese authorities held high expectations that this event would demonstrate the grandeur of the Chinese nation to a worldwide audience—and, perhaps more importantly, that it would help garner sympathy and support for China's resistance against Japan, which had been pressing on Chinese territory since its occupation of Manchuria, beginning in September 1931.

Fig.1 Overview shot of Gallery VI, 1935 Royal Academy Chinese Exhibition

The Exhibition was held at the Royal Academy of the Arts, at Burlington House, Piccadilly, from 28 November 1935 to 7 March 1936. More than 780 works from the Chinese government collection were shown at the exhibition, along with an additional 3,100 pieces belonging to some 240 collections from other countries. Magnificent works of bronze and jade, ceramics, paintings, sculptures and other objects—the likes of which few Westerners had ever seen—were drawn from the Palace Museum, the National Museum, the Academia Sinica, the Henan Provincial Museum and the Anhui Provincial Library, as well as from the ornate Dunhuang collections of the National Library of France and the British Museum.[Figs1, 2 & 3]. The exhibition provided a powerful stimulus for the study of Chinese art, and revolutionized Chinese art history as an intellectual discipline. For China, it was a great public relations success.[2] Chinese art enjoyed favorable press for the duration of the exhibition, with the British media publishing a number of treatises and reports in universal praise of the uniqueness and universality of Chinese art and civilization. Chief among the many positive effects of the exhibition was a boom in the writing and translation of studies about Chinese art, literature and history, both in English and in other Western languages. Studies of Chinese civilization also enjoyed unprecedented popularity, among which those of Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) and Arthur Waley (1889-1966) are perhaps the best known, symbolizing as they do the sincere effort of Western writers to understand China at the time.[3]

However, a number of studies published during the exhibition show that there was still a considerable ignorance about traditional Chinese art and culture; misunderstandings that in turn were reflected in the prevailing attitudes of the British public that attended the exhibition. Western misconception of China was one of the main catalysts for the creation of The China Critic.[4]

Reactions to the London Exhibition

As a key participant during the International London Exhibition, the Republican government of China had to negotiate some complicated historical and cultural problems. First, since many Chinese intellectuals were far more concerned with the designs of the Imperial Japanese Army in Manchuria at this time, there was strong domestic opposition to China lavishing time and energy on its cooperation with the British over an art exhibition in far-away London.

Secondly, since the nineteenth-century China had generally been depicted as an undeveloped nation and stagnant civilization, one that was in stark contrast to the major European powers that had achieved high levels of scientific and technological advancement as since the Industrial Revolution. Notions of Chinese backwardness had become ingrained in Western understanding and interpretations of China and its art and culture—they also provided a pretext for foreign powers to establish concessions in China following the Opium War. Nonetheless, Europeans had admired Chinese porcelain, ceramics, lacquer and other art forms for centuries, and generally acknowledged the quality of Chinese art, as well as its favorable influence on the art, culture and social life of Europe. But Chinese culture was regarded as 'timeless' and 'primitive'; Chinese works of art were regarding as interesting curios worth collecting, but lacking in higher artistic value.

Following Japan's full-scale invasion of Manchuria in September 1931, many in China felt an increasingly urgent need to reinterpret and redefine Chinese culture and art in a global context. The Nanking government began to pursue policies that aimed to promote Chinese culture worldwide, and to elevate Chinese art and artistic tradition to the same international status as that enjoyed by Western art. Sun Fo and Cai Yuanpei were among the most important advocates of the government's cultural policies, and in their effort to promote cross-cultural understanding more generally they founded of Chinese branches of the International Pen Club, The League of Nations International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, and the English-language monthly magazine, T'ien Hsia.

Cai Yuanpei and Lin Yutang

Cai and Lin shared the experience of having studied at Leipzig, Germany; back in China they were close colleagues atthe China League of Civil Rights beginning in early 1931, then later at the Academia Sinica. At the time, Lin Yutang was head of the international publications exchange office in the Academia Sinica, while also serving as Cai's foreign language secretary. In this capacity Lin worked closely with Cai in communicating with prominent Western intellectuals that were involved with the planning of the London exhibition, including Gilbert Murray, Paul Pelliot and Henri Bonnet.[5] In addition to the Academia Sinica, Cai also encouraged cross-cultural initiatives through his work at the Sun Yat-sen Institute for the Advancement of Culture and Education,[6] the Council of the Palace Museum, the Chinese branches of the International Pen Club and the League of Nations International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. These organizations were deeply involved in the Modern Chinese Art Exhibition in Berlin in 1934, and the International London Exhibition in 1935.[7]

Judging by the correspondence between Lin and Cai beginning in late 1931, and in a number of essays that Lin contributed to Chinese- and English-language magazines during the time of the London Exhibition, it is clear that he was familiar with the National government's cultural policy, and that he had a clear awareness of how the Exhibition would be a significant forum for introducing Chinese culture to the engaged Western public. In addition, while Lin Yutang was highly critical of Confucianism and Daoism in his younger years, his writing during the time of the Exhibition shows that his attitude towards these traditional schools of thought and become decidedly more positive and accepting, and colored his interpretation of the Chinese artistic tradition.[8]

T'ien Hsia and the International London Exhibition

As has been noted elsewhere in this issue of China Heritage Quarterly, the weekly magazine The China Critic was founded in Shanghai in 1928 by a group of Western-educated intellectuals. While this magazine's editors and contributors changed frequently until it finally ceased publication in 1945, in the early to mid 1930s Wen Yüan-ning, Lin Yutang, John C.H. Wu and T.K. Chuan (全增嘏, 1903-1984) stood out as important commentators on artistic and literary topics. Wen Yüan-ning was a Cambridge graduate and professor of English literature at Peking University, serving also as chief editor of T'ien Hsia; Lin Yutang, a Leipzig- and Harvard-educated philologist and literary critic, edited the popular column 'Little Critic' beginning in July 1930; John C.H. Wu, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, was a law professor at Dongwu University 東吳大學; and T.K. Chuan, who had also attended Harvard, was a philosophy professor at Fudan University 復旦大學, and edited 'Little Critic' during Lin Yutang's absence. Later joined by the playwright Yao Hsin-nung 姚莘農, these five writers formed the editorial board of T'ien Hsia. This journal was published under the auspices of the Sun Yat-sen Institute for the Advancement of Culture and Education 中山教育文化基金會, an organization founded by Sun Fo that engaged in translation and cultural initiatives.[9] Describing the purpose of T'ien Hsia, and of the founding of the Institute, Sun Fo wrote the following in an inaugural 'Foreword' for the journal:

Now, there is one activity of the League of Nations which has not been given the prominence it deserves—the work of the International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation. We think so much of the political and economic function of the League that we are apt to forget its cultural function, but it is a function which, we are sure, will increase in importance with time. No real political and economic understanding can exist, unless it is based upon a cultural understanding.[10]

The Sun Yat-sen Institute, then, had strong connections with both The China Critic and T'ien Hsia, and was also an important organ of Republican government cultural policy, responsible for disseminated its version of Chinese culture overseas. Wen and Lin, as important members of the editorial boards of both of these magazines, supported the government's cultural initiatives, as is evident in various articles that they published during the preparatory stages of the London Exhibition.

In their articles, Wen and Lin both emphasized the commonalities between Chinese and Western art forms. They made a point of eschewing terms like 'exotic' and 'curios', then common in Western discourse, which they saw as beingtinted with prejudice if not outright contempt, and entirely unhelpful for promoting cultural understanding. However, contrasting influences from their respective Western educations meant that these two men were fundamentally different in the ways in which they attempted to interpret 'the Chinese mind' for the Western reading public.

Wen Yüan-ning and John C.H. Wu

The Preliminary London Exhibition was held in Shanghai from 8 April to 1 May 1935.[11] On 2 May, The China Critic published a special issue devoted to Chinese art, which contained articles that sought to introduce the principles of Chinese art and aesthetics to English readers of this newspaper, both within China and overseas. The contributors to this issue included Florence Ayscough (1878-1942), who later expressed great admiration for Lin Yutang's My Country and My People and his other English works, and Wen Yüan-ning, whose article explored the principles of Chinese literary painting. Wen interpreted the 'space' 余白 represented in the work of the Yuan dynasty painter Gao Kegong (高克恭, 1248-1310), and the renowned Ming artist Qiu Ying (仇英, 1470-1559), as being a unique artistic and aesthetic method which had it roots in the Daoist concept of 'inaction' 無為. In order to explain the Chinese understanding of the universe, one in which the harmonious relationship between Man and Nature is central, Wen illustrated his argument with reference to Dong Yuan's 董源 Lungsu Villa 龍宿山荘図 (which he translates as 'Natives of Lung Shu Suburb'):

The supreme virtue of Chinese painting is unquestionably its fine sense for nature. Everything, including man, finds its proper place in a beautiful harmony. Whereas in Western painting, man is glorified at the expense of everything else, in Chinese painting he forms only a small part of the whole; but it is a part which satisfies, because the whole of which he forms but a part is so desirably beautiful. In Tung Yuan's Natives of Lung Shu Suburb, for instance, who that sees that picture does not ache, if only for a while, to be one of the tiny figures in white, who are immortalised forever in that scroll? Sublimity, harmony, beauty—they are all there in that picture.[12]

As well as introducing the Chinese aesthetic, Wen also intended to elevate Chinese art to an equal standing with Western tradition. This can be seen in an editorial note in the December 1935 issue of T'ien Hsia, in which Wen commented upon the importance of the London Exhibition:

We learn that the Burlington House Exhibition of Chinese Art is proving to be a great success. One of the results of the Exhibition, we hope, will be the elimination of the word 'curios' from the minds of Europeans when they talk of Chinese art. The word in itself is harmless enough and has its use as a description of the nick-nacks that travelers pick up at bazaars in Hongkong and Shanghai on their round-the-world trip. But when applied to paintings by Ma Yuan, Chao Meng-fu, Tung Ch'i-ch'ang and Shih T'ao, or Shang and Chou bronzes, it is about as appropriate as to include under it the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and Cézanne, or the examples of Greek sculpture at the British Museum. What we deprecate is the mentality of the person who indiscriminately uses the word 'curios': it indicates a lazy and frivolous mind which prefers darkness to light. When confronted with anything it is not accustomed to, it puts on blinkers in order not to see. Such a blinker is the term 'curios'.[13]

Expressing hope that the organizers and participants at the London Exhibition would not regard the event as being merely a 'social affair', Wen went on to write that it should be a cultural turning point aiming 'to create an atmosphere of intelligent curiosity about Chinese art', and that 'If the Exhibition is going to do more than that, it must also stimulate serious study of Chinese art not only among practicing artists, but also among the educated English public.'[14] With such high aspirations for the Exhibition, The China Critic writers regarded the literary activities of Binyon and Waley—among the most renowned sinologists in Europe at the time—with interest and anxiety. In T'ien Hsia Wen Yüan-ning published a number of book reviews in praise of recent English works on Chinese art; one of these, of Binyon's landmark work The Spirit of Man in Asian Art (London, 1935), is particularly noteworthy. Wen praised Binyon for deepening British understanding of Chinese art through his lectures and writing:

Mr. Binyon covers a lot of ground in this book, but he gives to Chinese art the central position in Asian art. We think he has done well to do so. In the past when European talked of Asian art, they meant Persian and Indian art, but not Chinese art. Europe first came into contact with Chinese art through porcelains, lacquers, jades and such like things. The term 'curios' which was used to describe Chinese objects d'art well depicts the sort of attitude with which the West approached Chinese art. What struck Europeans in Chinese art not many decades ago was the bizarre element in it: they prized it for its quaintness, its dainty elegance, its 'museum' qualities. This is because they never came into contact with the best examples of the highest form of Chinese art—Chinese painting. Indeed, even when Chinese paintings came to be better known in the West, they were seen through Japanese eyes, so to speak; for Japanese paintings were known to the West long before Chinese paintings. It is only recently that this wrong approach to Chinese art has been corrected. And one of the persons who has done more than anyone else to bring about a more correct appreciation of Chinese art is Mr. Binyon. Gradually from being a mere curiosity, Chinese art, more especially Chinese painting, has been given its rightful place in Asian art.[15]

While Wen Yuanning's writing thus focused primarily on the London Exhibition itself, John C.H. Wu, himself a translator, contributed to T'ien Hsia a series of reviews of recent scholarship and translation by the renowned English Sinologist, Arthur Waley. While Waley was not a central figure during the Exhibition, his works on Chinese art, classical poetry, and Confucian and Daoist scriptural texts were influential in providing the engaged public with a context for what they were seeing at the exhibition. In a series of articles concerning English translations of classical poetry, Wu quoted a number of Waley's translations from his One Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems (London, 1918) and The Book of Songs (London, 1937), contending that he was 'the best translator of Chinese poems'. Wu was particularly impressed by Waley's translation of the Tang Dynasty poet Bo Juyi 白居易 (772-846).[16]In a book review Wu also applauded Waley's accomplished translation of The Tao Te Ch'ing 道德經 (London, 1934):

The author is one of those rare spirits in the West who have an inborn predilection for things Chinese. His translations of Chinese poems have won for him a high place among sinologues, and not a low one among modern English poets. As Louis Untermeyer, in whose Anthologyof Modern British Poetry are included some of Waley's translations, has justly observed, 'Waley is no mere competent adapter, but a poet in his own right.' One may, indeed, find a little flaw, here and there, due either to the intrinsic difficulties of the Chinese language or to a more or less excusable oversight; but on the whole no one has done a better job, for no one is more akin in spirit to the poets of old China.[17]

In addition to John C.H. Wu and Wen Yuanning, Lin Yutang was also heavily involved in promoting Chinese art at the time of the Exhibition, contributing numerous articles on Chinese culture and its influence in the West to both Chinese and English magazines. Lin later included much of this writing in his hugely successful English-language treatises on Chinese culture, written after he moved to the United States in 1936, and he took advantage of the opportunity presented by the London Exhibition to make his début to the Western reading public with My Country and My People.[18]

Fig.2 Gallery IX: Throne; teakwood, with cloisonné enamel and carvings of cloud scrolls and bats. H. 96.3cm; W. 110cm. With a footstool with designs in gold lacquer. Qing Dynasty.

Lin Yutang and the London Exhibition

Before and after the London Exhibition, Lin Yutang published a number of articles discussing Chinese art and culture and its influence in the West. Among these, the Chinese version of 'The Spirit of Chinese Culture', a speech Lin presented at Oxford University in 1932, and 'Artistic Imperialism', and essay published in the magazine Cosmic Wind 宇宙風 in 1936 which was directly addressed to the Exhibition, are particularly important for understanding this writer's attitude towards Chinese art.

In his preface to 'The Spirit of Chinese Culture', Lin recorded his encounter with a number of British oriental art admirers, including George Eumorphopulus who, along with Sir Percival David, was instrumental in organizing the London Exhibition. Lin claimed that a kind of 'nostalgia' for traditional Chinese culture and art had increased among the European intellectuals following the First World War, a nostalgia that was inspired by a series of exhibitions of Asian art held in Europe:

Oriental civilization, art and philosophy have excellent qualities, and for this reason they have aroused the romantic admiration of European scholars for Chinese culture, particularly Chinese art. Generally, Western scholars admire and are fond of Chinese calligraphy, paintings and antiques to the same extent that they admire Greek cilivilization. When I stayed in London, I visited the Chinese ceramics collection of Eumorphopulus. I was so fascinated by a statue of the goddess of Guanyin made in Ding Yao that I concluded that the Chinese Guanyin and the Western Madonna (St Mary) are the centers of religions arts of each nation and the crystallization of its people's imaginations. Honestly speaking, however, from the graceful pose, the elegant and gentle manner, and the lovely color, I would prefer to say that the statue of the Chinese Guanyin is better than the Western St Mary. If I had been born as an European, I would definitely admire the figures of Chinese paintings as well.

東方文明、東方芸術、東方哲學,本有極優異之點,故歐州學者,竟有対中國文化引起浪漫的崇拝,而於中國美術尤甚。一般學者於玩摩中國書畫古玩之余,対中國芸術愛好之誠,或與歐西學者之思戀希臘文明同等。余在倫敦參観 Eumorphopulus 私人収蔵中國磁器,見一座定竃観音,亦神為之蕩。中國之観音與西洋之瑪妲娜 (聖母) 同為一種宗教芸術之中心対象,同為一民族芸術想像力之結晶。然平心而論,観音姿勢之妍麗,態度之安祥,神情之嫻雅,色沢之可愛,私人認為在西洋之上最名貴瑪妲娜之上。吾知縦令吾生為歐人,対中國畫中人物,亦必発生思戀。[19]

In 'Artistic Imperialism' Lin Yutang analyzed the cultural influence of the Burlington House Exhibition from two perspectives, with a focus upon the national treasures on loan from the Palace Museum. According to Lin, the first aspect of the Chinese influence was purely practical: objects like ornate tea sets had fascinated the British upper classes since they had entered Europe during the late Ming and early Qing, and had become such an integral part of British daily life by the eighteenth century that they were natural favourites at the Exhibition. Lin stated positively that although such curiosity and interest might not lead to a deeper intellectual understanding of Chinese art among the British public, it would nonetheless play a significant role in strengthening the sentimental bond between the Chinese and the British. Lin's intention was to stress the cultural influence of Chinese art in Europe, and on this point, he quoted a lecture that Lawrence Binyon had delivered at the Royal Academy, in which he had commented upon the different outlook of nature between Eastern and Western artists:

Indeed, the most important thing in cross-cultural communication is to learn and to absorb what is the best from each other's cultures. Laurence Binyon (the former Oriental art authority of the British Museum), recently gave a lecture at London. Referring to the spirit of the London Exhibition of Chinese art, his tone was quite positive[…]. 'In my opinion, the importance of Chinese art is its inspiration from life—directly from life of the ordinary people;' Since "the Chinese mind" resided in nature and universe, we have to admit that for Chinese art is a more important tool to cultivate their inner tranquility than it is for any other race. For art in China is within life, not outside of it).

実在文化接触貴在互相吸輸以注。賓嬢氏 Laurence Binyon (前倫敦博物院美術専家) 近在倫敦講演,談及此次展覧及中国美術之精神,語頗中肯。(中略)「依我的意見,中国美術之可貴,是他由生活――由平民的生活直接開放出来。」「中国人的心霊 'The Chinese mind' 悠遊於自然万類之中;無論我們持什么美術学説,都不能不承認,美術之在中国成為普通人養性怡情之具,甚於在任何其他民族;這美術是寓於人生之内,而非附於人生之外的」。[20]

Here, Lin refers directly to Binyon's ideas and interpretation of Chinese art, showing that he shared in the latter's concerns.

Considering that Chinese calligraphy was little known in the West in the 1930s, Lin also published a number of English articles dealing with this topic. In two articles that appeared in The China Critic and The People's Tribune, he discussed the aesthetics of calligraphy, and surmised that the artistic inspiration of calligraphy which is drawn from Nature constitutes the basis of Chinese art forms. To illustrate his point, Lin pointed out the essential differences in spirit between Chinese art and Western art: 'Chinese art draws its inspiration from mountains and streams, while Western art draws its inspiration from the beauty of women'.[21] In the Tribune, Lin wrote that 'it seems therefore that the spirit of Western art is more sensual, more passionate, more full of the artists' own ego, while the spirit of Chinese art is more chastened, more restrained, and more in harmony with nature.'[22] Lin pursued this point later on in T'ien Hsia when he examined the relationship between art and life within the historical context of traditional Chinese culture:

The basic inspiration for this art, as for all arts, is nature. In this exhaustive search for all theoretically possible types of rhythm and structural form in the history of Chinese calligraphy, practically all organic forms and all movements of living objects that are found in nature have been incorporated or assimilated, becoming prototypes for the different "styles." In particular, the beauty of organic rhythm in plant and animal forms has been the chief source of inspiration.[23]

Here, Lin claims that calligraphy is underpinned by a Daoist aesthetic sensibility, and he concluded by proposing that it is impossible to talk about Chinese art without first understanding calligraphy and its artistic inspiration—a view that accords with those of both Sir Percival David and Laurence Binyon.[24]

Of the many essays that Lin Yutang wrote on Chinese art and culture before the move to the US, perhaps the most important was one which he contributed to the magazine Asia, in December 1934. When this essay appeared, Lin had just finished writing My Country and My People, which Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) had encouraged him to write when the two met in Shanghai before the London Exhibition.[25] Lin's discussion of Chinese art and culture in that particular essay, therefore, can be seen as part of what would be his most influential book on Chinese culture. Lin went to great lengths to interpret 'the Chinese Mind,' a notion which he claimed had long been mysterious to Westerners in their efforts to interpret China. According to Lin, 'the Chinese Mind' is a cultural spirit that is strongly coloured by Confucianism and Daoism, and one which gave rise to the poetry, calligraphy and painting:

An understanding of life was and always has been the Chinese ideal of character, and from that understanding are derived other qualities, like love of nature, indifference, 'old roguery'—which is pure Taoism—pacifism, contentment, all of which may be summed up in the word 'mellowness'. Strength of character is really strength of the mind, according to the Confucianists, and, if any conclusion were to be drawn from a study of the Chinese character, it would doubtless be that of the supremacy of the Chinese mind over material surroundings. The imagination, contemplating sorrow and poverty, turns sorrow and poverty into beauty, as we see clearly in Tu Fu's poetry.[26]

Lin emphasizes that the 'Chinese mind' had prevented the development of science and technology in modern China; but nonetheless it had nurtured an artistic philosophy of life that inspired beautiful poetry, calligraphy and painting. Lin concluded that the 'Chinese mind' had been misunderstood by Westerners for several centuries, and that such a view should be corrected, because it was precisely this 'Chinese mind' that had furnished the Chinese people with the wisdom, strength and imagination to create the most beautiful art in the world.

Fig.3 Central Room of the exhibition: Colossal Standing Figure of Amitābha Buddha, marble, with inscribed lotus base, A.D. 585 H: 5.78. Lent by C.T. Loo, Paris.


In the opening chapter of My Country and My People, Lin Yutang attacks Western misconceptions about Chinese civilization that treat it as being somehow timeless and primitive, and he answers with sarcastic rebuttal: 'the Chinese, as a people, avoided the dangers of civic deterioration by a natural distrust of civilization and by keeping close to primitive habits of life […] it was a civilization in love with primitivism itself and was not quite ready to say good-by to it.'[27] On these grounds, Lin links the Chinese love of a more basic lifestyle—fondness of nature and family life, happiness in contentment—with the creation of Chinese art and literature:

'What seems still more important is the fact that the ruling class not only came from the country but also returned to the country, as the rural mode of life was always regarded as the ideal. This rural ideal in art, philosophy and life, so deeply imbedded in the Chinese general consciousness, must account in a large measure for the racial health today. Did the creators of the Chinese pattern of life do more wisely than they knew in maintaining a level between civilization and the primitive habits of living? Was it their sound instinct which guided them to choose the agricultural civilization, to hate mechanical ingenuity and love the simple ways of life, to invent the comforts of life without being enslaved by them, and to preach from generation to generation in their poetry, painting and literature the "return to the farm"?'[28]

Lin gave a partial answer to this question in chapter nine of the book, but he believed that it was an issue requiring further explication. He did so in his next major book, The Importance of Living (1937), and also in his panoramic 1939 novel Moment in Peking.[29]


[1] The self-designation 中國評論週刊社 'China Critic group' appeared frequently in the advertisements and editorial announcements of this newspaper, but by employing it in this study I seek specifically to describe the literary activities of its contributing writers, and to emphasize their common cultural perspectives and goals.

[2] Jason Steuber notes that the London Exhibition was well received and attended, attracting a total of 401,768 visitors over its course of four months. 108,914 copies of the exhibition catalogue were sold, as well as 3,486 illustrated supplements, 2,196 exhibition handbooks and 33,600 copies of The Royal Society of Arts journal.

With one in four visitors purchasing the exhibition catalogue, knowledge of this event soon spread. More than one hundred articles appeared in various Chinese, English, French, German and Japanese journals during the exhibition period, which highlights its widespread popularity. The exhibition provided the first opportunity for leading international scholars of Chinese art history and archaeology to present their scholarship to an international public audience. See 'The Exhibition of Chinese Art at Burlington House, London, 1935-36', The Burlington Magazine (August 2006): 528; and 'Contexts, Narratives and Canons: The 1935-1936 International Exhibition of Chinese Art', Arts of Asia (May-June, 2007): 126.

[3] See Fan Liya, 'Laurence Binyon, Arthur Waley and the London International Exhibition of Chinese Art', Studies of Comparative Literature, Tokyo: Society of Comparative Literature of the University of Tokyo, no.94 (January 2010): 99-101.

[4] See Fan Liya, 'British Intellectuals vis-à-vis Chinese Traditional Culture: Impacts of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, 1935-36', in Inaga Shigemi 稻贺繁美, ed., Oriental Consciousness between Reverie and Reality 1887-1953, Kyoto: Mineruba Press, 2012, pp.253-299.

[5] Murray and Bonnet were literature professors at Oxford and Sorbonne respectively, and were active leaders of League of National International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, the aim of which was to promote cultural understanding among nations and to bring peace to the world. Murray was also a regular contributor to T'ien Hsia. As a professor at the Collège de France and the editor of T'oung Pao 通報, Paul Pelliot frequently visited Academia Sinica. The London Exhibition Organizing Committee, under Sir Percival David, invited Pelliot to join a selection team, which traveled to Shanghai to select artworks that were sent to London in 1932. See Paul Pelliot, 'The Royal Tombs of An-Yang', in Studies in Chinese Art and Some Indian Influences, J. Hackin, Osvald Sirén, Langdon Warner and Paul Pelliot, eds, London: The India Society, 1937, pp.51-60; and, Jeannette Shambaugh Elliott and David Shambaugh, The Odyssey of China's Imperial Art Treasures, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005, pp.81-82.

[6] T'ien Hsia was formally associated with the Sun Yat-sen Institute for the Advancement of Culture and Education, as Sun Fo, head of the Legislative Yuan in the 1930s, noted in his definitive 'Forward' for this magazine (vol.1, no.1: August, 1935). Cai Yuanpei, however, was in charge of the practical running of T'ien Hsia. (China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 19, September 2009, focuses on the heritage of T'ien Hsia. See here for Sun's 'Forward')

[7] See Fan, 'Laurence Binyon, Arthur Waley and the London International Exhibition of Chinese Art', p.96.

[8] SeeFan Liya, 'Lin Yutang's Humour: With Special Reference to His Bilingual Works', Journal of Asian Studies, The University of Tokyo, no.4 (July 2007): 1-23. Lin's writing at the time of the Exhibition was resonant with a lecture given by Laurence Binyon at the Royal Academy, see Laurence Binyon, 'Chinese Painters', Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol. 84,no.2 (14 February 1936): 369-379.

[9] Commenting upon the connection between The China Critic and the Nationalist government, Shuang Shen 沈雙 writes: 'The China Critic's funding might have come directly from the Nationalist government. In fact, several members of The China Critic's editorial board also held important positions in the Nationalist government around the time of the founding of the magazine. Some worked in the Legislative Yuan headed by Sun Fo, Sun Yat-sen's son, who frequently wrote for The China Critic, especially in the first few issues. Several years after The China Critic was founded, Sun Fo became the director of a cultural institution called "Sun Yat-sen Institute for the Advancement of Culture and Education," which funded translation projects. Even though this cultural institution was founded later than The China Critic, it is possible that the magazine's funding sources was connected with this organization.' See Cosmopolitan Publics: Anglophone Print Culture in Semi-Colonial Shanghai, New Brunswick, New Jersey and London: Rutgers University Press, 2009, p.33.

[10] Sun Fo, 'Foreword', T'ien Hsia Monthly, vol.1, no.1 (August 1935): 4-5.

[11]The 'Preliminary Exhibition for the London International Exhibition of Chinese Art in Shanghai' was a rehearsal for the London Exhibition. After having made a decision to participate the Exhibition, the National Government established an artistic selection committee, who collaborated with the British selection committee to decide which pieces from the holdings of public collections would be sent to London. The finalized collection was gathered in Shanghai and exhibited in the former German Club from 8 April to 5 May. In June, the British cruiser HMS Suffolk left Shanghai for London, transporting in total 1022 art pieces in ninety-three steel cases. On 1 June 1936, following the conclusion of the London Exhibition and the safe return to China of all the collection, a 'Nanking Exhibition' was held in the capital. In addition to showcasing artwork from the Chinese collection that had been on display in England, the Nanking Exhibition also contained 1360 photographs of the various overseas collections. During the course of these three connected exhibits, then—the Preliminary Exhibition in Shanghai, the London Exhibition and subsequent Nanking Exhibition—China's artistic heritage was on public display on both a domestic and international scale never before seen. For further details, see the Chinese Organizing Committee's Canjia lundun zhongguo yishu guoji zhanlanhui chupin tushuo 参加伦敦中国艺术国际展览会出品图说 (Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Government Exhibits for the International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London), 4 vols., Shanghai: The Commercial Press, Ltd., 1935; Guo Hui, 'New Categories, New History: "The Preliminary Exhibition of Chinese Art" in Shanghai, 1935', in Jaynie Anderson, ed., Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence: The Proceedings of the 32nd International Congress in the History of Art, Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2009, pp.859-60.

[12] Wen Yuan-ning, 'Chinese Painting', The China Critic, vol.9, no.5 (2 May 1935): 110.

[13] Wen Yüan-ning, 'Editorial Commentary', T'ien Hsia Monthly, vol.1, no.5 (December 1935): 492-493.

[14] Ibid, p.493.

[15] Wen Yüan-ning, 'Book Review: The Spirit of Man in Asian Art, by Laurence Binyon', T'ien Hsia Monthly, vol.1, no.5 (December 1935): 596. Here Wen emphasizes the negative influence that Japanese interpretations of Chinese paintings had upon Western understanding: 'Indeed, even when Chinese paintings came to be better known in the West, they were seen through Japanese eyes, so to speak; for Japanese paintings were known to the West long before Chinese paintings. It is only recently that this wrong approach to Chinese art has been corrected.' But Wen overlooked the fact that Binyon's interpretation of Chinese art was heavily influenced by the English-language works of a number of Japanese art scholars, including Kohitsu Ryonin (古筆了任, 1875-1933), Okakura Tenshin (岡倉天心, 1863-1913) and Taki Sei-chi ( 滝精一, 1878-1945)—an influence which Binyon himself admitted in the preface to his Painting in the Far East (London, 1908).It was Kohitsu who first introduced Binyon to the principles of Japanese Connoisseurship, and his visual education was enriched by superb reproductions in The Kokka 国華and other Japanese publications edited by Taki Sei-chi published in the 1910s.His guide to the philosophy of Chinese art was Okakura Kakuzo, especially in The Ideals of the East (London, 1903), which he reviewed enthusiastically in the Times Literary Supplement, and The Book of Tea (London, 1906), both of which introduced him to facets of Daoism and Zen Buddhism that would colour his own writing on Chinese art and his thinking in general. I raised this issue in a paper recently presented at a conference held in Japan.For details, see Laurence Binyon, Preface to Painting in the Far East, London: E. Arnold, 1908, pp. vi-vii, and pp. ix–x; Preface to Painting in the Far East (second edition), London: E. Arnold, 1913, pp.vii-viii and p. xii; Idem, Times Literary Supplement, 6 March 1903, pp.73 and 74; John Trevor Hatcher, Laurence Binyon, Poet, Scholar of East and West, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995, pp.63-89 and 164-187; Fan Liya, 'Laurence Binyon and Arthur Waley: Two Different Types of British Oriental Scholars,' paper presented at the 16th Annual Asian Studies Conference Japan, Rikkyo University, 1 July 2012.

[16] John C.H. Wu, 'The Four Seasons of T'ang Poetry', T'ien Hsia Monthly, vol.5, no.4(April 1938): 344-352; (May 1938): 468; (August 1938): 66; (November 1938): 366, 368, 372-375, 377, 379-383 and 390; (February 1939): 156-157 and 160.

[17] John C.H. Wu, 'Book Review: The Way and Its Power: A Study of the Tao Te Ching and Its Place in Chinese Thought, by Arthur Waley', T'ien Hsia Monthly (September 1935): 225.

[18] On 16 January 1936, The China Critic published an editorial announcement, noting the success of the London Exhibition and of Lin Yutang's book My Country and My People as being two examples of a strong interest in Chinese culture in the West: 'In his speech at the Sino-British Cultural Association, Sir Alexander Cadogan aptly pointed out that 1935 was a "China Year" in England. There was first of all the successful performance of "Lady Precious Stream," skillfully adapted to the Western stage by Mr. S.I. Hsiung. Then came to the Burlington House Exhibition of Chinese art, which has won the admiration of Londoners and has aroused the latter's interest in the culture of China. A good many books, dealing not only with Chinese art in particular, but also with Chinese culture and civilization in general, have also recently been published in England. Noteworthy, among them are Mr. Fitzgerald's scholarly treatise on Chinese history, and a symposium on various aspects of Chinese art by such eminent authorities and critics as Laurence Binyon, Ashton and Hobson [… .] Then we might mention also the warm reception given by the people of the United States to Dr. Lin Yutang's book, "My Country and My People." We learn with gratification that in the opinion of American booksellers, no other book written about China since the publication of Pearl S. Buck's "The Good Earth" has enjoyed such a wide circulation as Dr. Lin's masterpiece.' See 'A "China Year" In America', The China Critic, vol.12, no.3 (16 January 1936): 51-52.

[19] Lin Yutang, Zhongguo wenhua zhi jingshen 中國文化之精神('The Spirit of Chinese Culture'), Shenbao Monthly 申報月刊, vol.1, no.1 (15 July 1932): 1. [My translation]

[20] Lin Yutang, Yishu de diguo zhuyi 芸術的帝国主義 ('Artistic Imperialism'), Yuzhou feng 宇宙風, no.11 (16 February, 1936): 519. [My translation]

[21] Lin Yutang, 'Little Critic: Aphorisms on Art,' The China Critic, vol.7, no.28 (12 July 1934): 686. This essay was originally published in Analects Fortnightly 論語半月刊; the translation was initialled 'S.P.C'.

[22] Lin Yutang, 'A Footnote on Chinese and Western Painting,' The People's Tribune, vol.3, no.5 (10 October 1932): 345.

[23] Lin Yutang, 'The Aesthetics of Chinese Calligraphy,' T'ien Hsia Monthly, vol.1, no.5 (December 1935): 495-496.

[24] Sir Percival David, Bt, 'The Chinese Exhibition'; Laurence Binyon, 'Chinese Painters', Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol.83, no.12 (6 December 1935): 115-116; vol.84, no.2 (14 February 1936): 369-379.

[25] See Fan Liya 'Lin Yutang and Pearl S. Buck: An Examination of Their Literary Exchange in The China Critic,' Studies of Comparative Literature, Society of Comparative Literature of the University of Tokyo, no.88 (October 2006): 102-123; 'Pearl S. Buck and Lin Yutang: Lin's Literary Relationship with Asia, John Day and the East and West Association after His Moving to the U.S.', Journal of Asian Studies, The University of Tokyo, vol.7 (July 2011): 82-101.

[26] Lin Yutang, 'Qualities of the Chinese Mind,' Asia, vol.XXXIV, no.12(December 1934): 728.

[27] Lin Yutang, My Country and My People, New York: John Day, 1935, p.39.

[28] Ibid., p.36.

[29] See Fan Liya, 'How The Importance of Living was Accepted by the English-Reading Public during War-time'; 'Pearl S. Buck's "Pastoral China" and Lin Yutang's "Cultured China" ', Studies of Japanese Philosophy and Thought, The University of Tokyo, vol.10 (September 2009): 116-134; vol.11 (March 2010): 164-193; 'How "China" Is Portrayed in Lin Yutang's Moment in Peking',' Journal of Asian Studies, The University of Tokyo, vol.8 (March 2012): 48-76.