Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Dillon Fund
Gift, 1977 Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
19 Nov 2015

To help celebrate the the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s renowned Department of Asian Art, an exhibit, that features over 100 works from the permanent collection is on display.  The exhibit is in 2 rotations.  The first is from October 31, 2015 – April 17, 2016 and the second will begin shortly after and conclude on October 11, 2016.  This exhibit highlights the collection’s most notable works of art.

Early works concentrating on the Tang and Song dynasties (960 – 1279) start the exhibit.  With this grouping the oldest and most storied piece from the Museum’s collection, Han Gan’s Night Shining White, depicting the favorite horse of Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712 – 756) is featured.  Alongside this piece is Palace Banquet, one of the few surviving Chinese paintings from the 10th century, which shows a lavish courtly scene in the women’s quarters of the palace.

One of the most important examples of calligraphy from the Song dynasty, measuring over 60 feet in length is,  Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru, by Huang Tingjian (1045 – 1105) can be seen across from one of the only surviving works by the Northern Song master who was recognized as the courts greatest painter of figures: Classic Filial Piety, by Li Gonglin (ca. 1041 – 1106)

Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru
Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The well-known Horse and Groom by Zhao Mengfu is on display from the Yuan dynasty (1271 – 1368), when China was ruled by the Mongols.  Other works from this period are Zhang Yucai’s dragon painting, Beneficent Rain, and masterpieces by two heroes of the literati painting movement, Ni Zan and Wu Zhen.

Zhao Lin, Chinese, active second half of the 14th century Zhao Mengfu, Chinese, 1254–1322 Zhao Yong, Chinese, 1289–after 1360 Grooms and Horses Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Zhao Lin, Chinese, active second half of the 14th century
Zhao Mengfu, Chinese, 1254–1322
Zhao Yong, Chinese, 1289–after 1360
Grooms and Horses
Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Works from the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) featured in this exhibition include Elegant Gathering in the Apricot Garden, a beautiful 15-century painting that captures the elegance of early Ming literati culture.  Viewers can also see examples of the intense vibrancy of the figure painting tradition during this period.

Chinese scroll from Ming dynasty. Elegant Gathering in the Apricot Garden

Elegant Gathering in the Apricot Garden
China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), ca. 1437
Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The last gallery in this exhibition is devoted to the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911).  Here you can see two massive scrolls that document the inspection tours of the southern part of the empire taken by two emperors, Kangxi (r. 1662 – 1722) and Qinalong (r. 1736 – 1795).  The scrolls fill an entire wall more than 50 feet long and provides a rare opportunity to see them side by side.

Chinese Scroll from Qing Dynasty

Wang Hui, Chinese, 1632–1717 and assistants
The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Three: Ji’nan to Mount Tai
China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), datable to 1698
Handscroll; ink and color on silk
Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy is one of the greatest and most comprehensive in the world.  This exhibition is a unique treat for viewers and showcases what Museum’s discerning Department of Asian Art has amassed over the last 40 years.

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Museum Excursion

A lover of all things museum, writing to make your cultural excursions more meaningful.

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