20 Mar 2012

Chinese Fine Arts

Chinese Fine Arts

1: Hua Yan,Red and White Peonies,1731,94×97.3cm,Ink and color on silk
2 Left: Wang Zhen,Flying Swallow in Peach Blossom,1923,157×47cm,ink and brush
2 Right: Zhao Shigang,Okra and Dragonfly,1929,106×50cm,ink and brush

The National Art Museum of China
1 Wusi Dajie, East District
Beijing, China, 100010

Museum hours
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (No Entry after 4:00 p.m.)
Opening all year round

Museum Admission
Ticket: Free

3: Peonies
Yün Shou-p'ing (1633-1690), Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Album leaf, ink and colors on paper, 28.5 x 43.0 cm

Yün Shou-p'ing (sobriquet Nan-t’ien) was a native of Wu-chin (modern Ch'ang-chou, Kiangsu) who grew up in a family of limited means, which prevented him (as a gifted student) from attending the examinations for civil office. Nevertheless, he devoted himself to studying and even surprised his elders at the age of eight by composing poetry on lotus blossoms. His poetry was untrammeled, his calligraphy in the spirit of Ch'u Sui-liang (596-658), and his painting lively. Consequently, contemporaries praised his achievements in art as "The Three Perfections." At an early age, Yün excelled at landscape painting, especially in the manners of the ancients. It is said that when he met the landscape master Wang Hui (1632-1717), he conceded Wang's superior achievements; "In this art, your learning and talent surpass all. Try as I may, I can only rank second." Yün thereupon abandoned landscapes and studied flower painting, bamboo in monochrome ink, animals, and insects. In these subjects, he studied ancient and modern styles, becoming especially adept at the "boneless" method of ink and color washes derived from the style of Hsü Ch'ung-ssu (fl. 11th c.), grandson of the famous flower painter Hsü Hsi. Yün thus achieved fame for his own style, which became known as the Ch'ang-chou School.

This work is the second leaf from the album "Album of Flowers and Landscapes," which also includes paintings by Wang Hui. In this particular leaf, the three peonies are distinguished by their colors and positions. The peony is considered the king of flowers in China, symbolizing wealth and prosperity. The purplish-brown one is concealed among the leaves, the dark red one extends upward, and the white one extends to the back. Painters often avoided using opulent reds and greens for fear of appearing too gaudy. Yün Shou-p'ing, however, has struck a harmonious balance and achieved an elegant sense of coloring in depicting the splendor of the plants, proving his exceptional skill at handling washes and colors.

4: A Palace Concert
Anonymous, Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 48.7 x 69.5 cm

This painting shows ten ladies of the inner court sitting around a large rectangular table. Some enjoy tea, while others drink wine. The four figures at the far end seem to be responsible for playing music and livening up the atmosphere. The instruments that they hold, from left to right, are bamboo pipes, zither, lute, and flute. The two standing figures are servant girls; the one in back plays a clapper to keep beat. The melodic and elegant music almost seems to intoxicate the figures, judging from their expressions. Even the small dog under the table seems undisturbed.

This work bears no seal or signature of the artist. However, the original title slip reads, "Picture of A Palace Concert by a Yüan [1279-1368] Artist." Close examination of the hairstyles shows that some are combed in one direction on top (so-called "falling topknots"), while others are combed in two directions and tied into knots by the ears ("side knots"). With different hair ornaments, one of them even wears a "floral headdress." These all correlate with ladies' fashions in the T'ang dynasty. The woven bamboo-top table, cusped crescent stools, winged wine cups, and the way the lute is being played with a large pick all accord with late T'ang customs. For these reasons, this painting ought to be reattributed to the T'ang

National Palace Museum
Add: No.221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 11143, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Tel:+886-2-2881-2021

Opening Hours
Open daily from 08:30 to 18:30 all year round.

Admission: NT$160

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