Museum hosts most complete Dong Qichang exhibition ever

Yang Jian
Over 150 paintings and calligraphy works from Dong Qichang (1555-1636) and other renowned ancient Chinese calligraphers and painters will be on display at the Shanghai Museum.
Yang Jian

Over 150 paintings and works of calligraphy by Dong Qichang (1555-1636) and other artists will be on display at Shanghai Museum from Friday.

The exhibition includes 154 exhibits from museums and institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tokyo National Art Museum.

Apart from the works of Dong, a native of Songjiang District who had great influence to the development of Chinese painting, many old masterpieces that influenced Dong will also be exhibited.

They include “Fuchun Shan Ju Tu,” or Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, which is often cited as the epitome of traditional landscape painting, as well as calligraphy by “the sage of calligraphy” Wang Xizhi (303-361 AD) and Yan Zhenqing (709-785 AD).

The exhibition will be the first devoted to Dong in the city and features the most complete collection of his works ever brought together, said Ling Lizhong, curator of the exhibition.

“We want to host an academic exhibition that will have a place in art history,” said Ling. The exhibition will run through March 10, but some 40 borrowed exhibits will be returned before then.

Dong, who became head of the Ministry of Rites during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), was heavily influenced by his predecessors while creating his own distinctive plain style and came up with influential theories on painting and calligraphy.

Even the Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) learned and imitated Dong’s calligraphy style.

The exhibition features over 90 works Dong created between the ages of 35 and 82, including his longest piece of calligraphy, an 18-meter scroll, and his tallest vertical painting, borrowed from the Cleveland Museum of Art. The 2.25-meter scroll, “Qing Bian Tu” (Mount Qingbian) is only exhibited for six months every five years.

Part of “Fuchun Shan Ju Tu,” also known as the “Remaining Mountain” has been borrowed from Zhejiang Provincial Museum and will be exhibited for a month. It was painted nearly 700 years ago by Huang Gongwang (1269-1354). The other part, “Master Wuyong’s Scroll” is housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

It is said Dong started to learn painting from Huang’s work and “Fuchun Shan Ju Tu” was a major inspiration to him.

Several duplicates of Dong’s works will be displayed alongside the authentic works to give visitors an opportunity to distinguish one from the other.

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