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National Day Celebration with the Company of National Treasures
The NPM “Restricted” National Treasures Make the Grand Appearance.
The Exhibition Unravels the Vengeance of Wang Shizhen, the Dominant Figure of the Art World from the Late Ming Dynasty

Release date:2022-10-05
News Room

The NPM proudly presents the latest special exhibition, "All That Flourishes Under the Brush: The Late Ming Culturati Wang Shizhen and His Endeavors". The first selection of the event has the glorious presence of National Treasures in paintings and calligraphies, including the Autobiography by Huaisu, who is praised for writing 'the best cursive script in the world'; there are also legendary masterpieces such as the classic blue-and-green landscapes of the Tang dynasty Emperor Minghuang's Journey to Shu and the Autumn Colours on the Qiao and Hua Mountains by Zhao Mengfu from the Yuan dynasty. However, the restriction limits the display to only 42 days to make a splendid impression, and the NPM sincerely anticipate your visit to appreciate breathtaking treasures during the National day celebration.

Most people might be familiar with the medical publication Bencao Gangmu (The Compendium of Materia Medica) without acknowledging the initial force behind the curtain, Wang Shizhen. Wang was the prominent 'key opinion leader' of culturati from the late Ming; he was enthusiastic about writing, travelling, friendly gathering, and art appraising, and he even further dabbled into the field of garden designing, calligraphy and painting, archival documents, ceramics, embroideries, and curios. Wang Shizhen commanded the art world with his versatile talents and ascended as the classified authority of cultural taste. The Compendium of Materia Medica was only published because of the 'celebrity recommendation' of Wang Shizhen, which fully reflected Wang's popularity and influence as the opinion leader on the culturati.

The special exhibition focuses on Wang Shizhen's marvellous life and his endeavours of being a culturati in the late Ming, telling the legendary entanglement of how the painting Up the River During Qingming provoked misfortune involving Wang, Yan Song and Yan Shifan, the father and son duo; later with all the love and hate together conducted the 'tale of brilliant vengeance'. As the folk stories from the Ming and Qing go, the corrupt but powerful Yan Song (1480-1567) was unsuccessful in appropriating the famous painting Up the River During Qingming from the Wang family. As a result, Shizhen's father, Wang Yu, was forced out of pressure to commission painter Huang Biao to paint a copy. Unsuspectedly, the framing craftsman later exposed the act, and this incident became the cause of Yan to exact revenge and ensnare the official Wang Yu, and later had him executed. The first selection presents the Up the River During Qingming in Brief, having the fake seal marks of Wang Shizhen and Yan Shifan; this is the evidence that the forgers from the late Ming intentionally embraced the hand-down story and hoped to elevate the value and credibility of the painting.

Wang Shizhen considered that "all between heaven and earth is nothing but history"; his unique perspective as a historian documented the cultural creativity and diversity, and he faithfully portrayed the flourishing world of the Ming dynasty. The exhibit Biographies of the Grand Secretariats Since the Jiajing Emperor borrowed from the National Library not only representing Wang's critical writings and also formed a foundation for the later compilation of History of the Ming; the publication became the source of the following generation to shape the image of Yan father and son. It has been said that Wang Shizhem wrote the famous novel Jin Ping Mei  (Plum in the Golden Vase) to avenge his father. The animosity between the Wang and Yan clans reached such a complex and bizarre level to allude the extravagance and lust of Yan Shifan. Furthermore, the name 'Ximen (West door) Qing' coincidently echoes the studio name 'Donglou (East pavilion)' of Yan Shifan.

Wang Shizhen had faced political conflicts and the currents of cultural tastes; being a vital historian and literati of the Ming dynasty who grew, experienced, and moulded the flourish, his words captured the world's prosperity. Once the glamour faded, Wang Shizhen preserved the undeniable glory for the later generation in all the paragraphs on paper. In addition, Wang's critical writing carved the image of Yan Song being a treacherous character into people's ideas; Wang Shizhen eventually accomplished his vengeance through his literary and historical achievements.


Special exhibition information
“All That Flourishes Under the Brush: The Late Ming Culturati Wang Shizhen and His Endeavors”

The first period : 05/10/2022~25/12/2022
The second period : 28/12/2022~21/03/2023

Location:National Palace Museum Northern Branch, Main Exhibition Hall
Galleries 202 204 206 210 212

For press-related issues please contact:

Emily Wang 02-2881-2021#68991
Yang Wanyu 02-2881-2021#68900
Last Updated:2022-10-13