Image: The Art and Aesthetics of Form: Selections from the History of Chinese Painting 國立故宮博物院 National Palace Museum (New window) Image: The Art and Aesthetics of Form: Selections from the History of Chinese Painting
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Title: Selections
Illustrating an Imperial Poem on Ice-sledding in Snow(New window)

Illustrating an Imperial Poem on Ice-sledding in Snow

Qian Weicheng (1720-1772), Qing dynasty
Handscroll, ink and colors on paper, 36.5 x 194.3 cm

Qian Weicheng (style name Zongpan, sobriquet You’an), a native of Changzhou, Jiangsu, came in first place in the civil service exams of 1745. In painting, he looked back to the Four Yuan Masters and more recently in his day to the Four Wangs of the Qing. Receiving instruction from Dong Bangda, he also entered the Southern Studio at court.

This work illustrates a poem by the Qianlong Emperor. With meticulous brushwork, it depicts the imperial bodyguard pushing and pulling a yellow ice-sled tent on which Qianlong rides, slowly making their way across the lake Taiye of the Western Gardens. In the white lyricism of this ice-bound land and light flying snow, figures dot the landscape set off against the wide frozen lake and imperial buildings on the banks.

The Parting of Su and Li(New window)

The Parting of Su and Li

Attributed to Chen Juzhong (fl. 1201-1204), Song dynasty
Handscroll, ink and colors on silk, 25.2 x 121.4 cm

Su Wu was sent as an envoy by the Han court to the Xiongnu nomads but held as a captive. Remaining faithful to the Han and never surrendering, he was forced to herd sheep for 19 years in the Lake Baikal region. On a campaign against the Xiongnu, Li Ling fought his best but surrendered. Han Emperor Wudi put his family to death, so Li could never return home. When Li heard of Su’s imminent return to the Han, he made a special farewell visit to him, tears falling in sorrow. In this work, Su and Li clasp hands in parting, the bleak scenery echoing the despair of the figures’ emotions.

Chen Juzhong’s birth and death dates are unknown, but he was active as a Painter-in-Attendance in the Painting Academy during the Jiatai reign (1201-1204) of Emperor Ningzong. Judging from the style, the archaic coloring of this painting suggests a later copy of about the mid-14th century.

The Loyang Tower(New window)

The Loyang Tower

Attributed to Li Zhaodao (fl. ca. early 8th c.), Tang dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 37.5 x 39.7 cm

Within the small size of this scroll, the palace complex shown here unfolds along a central axis with connected buildings in an orderly manner. Child attendants scurry about as guests arrive riding horses on a stone bridge. The style is ingenious and refined. Although the figures are tiny, they are presented in complete detail.

Li Zhaodao, the son of Left General of the Militant Guard Li Sixun (653-718), was a native of Tianshui, Gansu, and served to the post of Secretary to the Heir Apparent. His gold and blue-and-green landscape paintings followed the spirit of his father’s style. He also excelled at figures and towers, later generations calling him “Minor General Li.”

Judging from the style of this old attribution to Li Zhaodao, this is probably a circa-14th-century copy after an earlier version.

Horseback Riding in a Spring Countryside(New window)

Horseback Riding in a Spring Countryside

Zhao Yong (1289-?), Yuan dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 88 x 51.1 cm

Zhao Yong (style name Zhongmu) was a native of Huzhou (modern Wuxing, Zhejiang). Son of the famous artists Zhao Mengfu and Guan Daosheng, he followed the family tradition of painting and calligraphy, achieving fame as well. He especially excelled at figures and saddled horses.

The composition of a horse and figure below a tree was popular in Tang dynasty painting. In this work the rider turns his head back holding a bow. He is shown in the shade of two crisscrossing old trees, a centered brush used to delineate the stout horse. Though following in the luxuriantly beautiful colors of Tang painting, it also shows with fine brushwork the lofty archaism and refinement of literati taste.

This undated work is similar in composition to “Riding Horse for Hunting” of 1347.

Traveling in Autumn Mountains(New window)

Traveling in Autumn Mountains

Zhang Fu (1546-?), Ming dynasty
Handscroll, ink and colors on silk, 31.1 x 213.6 cm

Zhang Fu (style name Yuanchun, sobriquet Lingshi), a native of Taicang in Jiangsu, was active around the Longqing (1567-1572) and Wanli (1573-1620) reigns. His early landscapes followed those of Shen Zhou, but later he developed his own style.

On the slopes of a bank are travelers making their way along a mountain path, and in the distance is a boating scene on expansive waters in autumn. The style follows in the brush manner as well as bright and refined colors of the Wu School. Although not as elegant as Qiu Ying’s manner, it is more innocent and artless, the figures also being well done. This handscroll is dated to the equivalent of 1601.

Illustrated Album of Trade with Nagasaki(New window)

Illustrated Album of Trade with Nagasaki

Anonymous, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Album leaf, ink and colors on silk, 35.8 x 28.2 cm

During the Age of Exploration, commerce flourished between countries in Asia, forming a bustling network of trade. This album of eight leaves, with text on the left and images on the right, depicts the activities of Chinese merchants conducting business in Japan, from merchant ships arriving at the Nagasaki outer port to workers unloading cargo at the docks (“Unloading”), making offerings to Matsu (“Nanjing Temple”), officials choosing goods (“Selecting Goods”), negotiating with Japanese merchants (“Bargaining”), purchasing Japanese products to ship back (“Lacquerware Shops”), transporting goods to the boats (“Sending Goods”), and two scenes at the end of local festivities of Chinese merchants (“Show” and “Assembly”). The album provides a sequential visual record of events at that time.

This album was probably painted in the early Qing dynasty.

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