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Past exhibition

Special Exhibition
A Special Exhibition of “Up the River During Qingming”
A Special Exhibition of Paintings on “Up the River During Qingming”

“Up the River During Qingming” is an extremely popular painting subject from the Song dynasty, and the most famous work is the original by Zhang Zeduan of the late Northern Song period (960-1126). In it, Zhang faithfully captured what many believe to be prosperous and bustling scenes along the Bian River and of the Northern Song capital of Bianjing. Admired by many painters and collectors in later years, a large number and variety of versions appeared in the subsequent Ming and Qing dynasties. Of these, the Qing dynasty version in the National Palace Museum done by court painters of the eighteenth century is considered by many to be the finest and richest in content, which is why it is also one of the most popular works in the collection and also a “National Treasure.”
In recent years, the National Palace Museum has helped produce various multimedia adaptations of the Qing court version of “Up the River During Qingming.” Examples include “Painting Anime” of the work, which uses technology to seamlessly recreate from photographs the unbroken scenery of the handscroll as if unfolding before one’s eyes. Then there is “Must See Paintings and Calligraphies Interactive Tabletop” that employs multi-resolution and multi-touch technologies that allow users to interact with the fascinating contents of this precious work. And finally “City of Cathay” is a high-definition film that documents the contents of “Up the River During Qingming” in stunning detail. All these efforts employ the latest technology to bring out the incredible diversity and details of this masterpiece.
This special exhibition actually features a display of three artworks from the National Palace Museum collection that deal with the “Up the River During Qingming” theme: “Qingming in Brief” attributed to the original artist Zhang Zeduan, “Up the River During Qingming” attributed to Qiu Ying of the Ming dynasty, and the Qing court version of “Up the River During Qingming.” Just as important, these actual paintings are accompanied by various digital and multimedia recreations and shows to offer visitors a visual, tactile, auditory, and somatosensory experience for the display. Allowing audiences to sense and feel the raucous atmosphere of the painting, it is sure to be a new and refreshing exhibit experience for all.
Exhibition Information
  • Event Date 2020-01-22~2020-04-26
  • Location 2F S203
Court artists, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Up the River During Qingming
  • National Treasure
This handscroll represents a collaborative effort on the part of five Painting Academy artists active in the eighteenth century at the Qing dynasty court of the Qianlong emperor: Chen Mei (1694-1745), Sun Hu, Jin Kun, Dai Hong, and Cheng Zhidao. It took them nine years to complete. The scenes are especially numerous and detailed, the production exceptionally refined, making it stand out among later copies and compare favorably with the original by Zhang Zeduan of the Northern Song. One of the most famous paintings in the National Palace Museum, it is also the most popular among audiences.
This scroll can be divided into several sections, including the rustic setting at the beginning, arched bridge and market, city wall and surroundings, and Lake Jinming scenery. In addition to the bustling figures strolling in the streets, various small shops and even the garden setting of the wealthy and a magnificent imperial garden appear here. With more than 4,000 figures, the painting has an unusually bustling atmosphere, the charm of the city coming to life before one’s eyes. With its fascinating and pleasing scenery inviting the viewer in, this masterpiece offers a view into many facets of life in China of the past.
Attributed to Qiu Ying (ca. 1494-1522), Ming dynasty
Up the River During Qingming
Many imitations of “Up the River During Qingming” have been done since the Southern Song period (1127-1279), and by the middle of the Ming dynasty even more copies were in circulation. The one that apparently caught the most attention was by Qiu Ying, and dozens of “Up the River During Qingming” handscrolls with his name survive today. In fact, three of them are now in the National Palace Museum collection.
These handscroll imitations in Qiu Ying’s name each have their own individual features. This work, for example, includes a stage performance, willow shooting, acrobatics, tightrope walking, and military review, which are rarely seen in other copies. In terms of the dragon boat race on Lake Jinming, it is quite detailed and the buildings ornate, emphasizing the sumptuous and majestic quality of palace architecture. The activities are also unusually raucous, such as the imperial boat race to capture pennants, dance scene, and other entertainments. The bright coloring here likewise differentiates this work from the others. Such details as the formulaic layering of the landscape forms combine to suggest an illusory feeling to the space. Thus, this painting appears to be a conscious emulation of the Qiu Ying style by a Suzhou artist in the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
Attributed to Zhang Zeduan (fl. early 12th c.), Song dynasty
Qingming in Brief
The title of this painting on “Up the River During Qingming” derives from the Qianlong emperor’s (1711-1799) understanding of a passage from Appended Explanations to the Book of Changes: “With ease it is easily understood, and with brevity it is free of labor.” In other words, something is easy to understand when its content is plain and straightforward. The artist here therefore probably intended for the viewer to grasp the full scope of prosperity in the Northern Song capital by simplifying the elements.
Zhang Zeduan (style name Zhengdao) of the Northern Song, a native of Dongwu, was a painter who famously depicted the street scenery of the capital city Bianjing in his “Up the River During Qingming,” now in the collection of the Palace Museum in Beijing. Much admired and appreciated over the ages, it was copied and imitated by many later artists who left behind numerous versions of the same name.
The imitation here traditionally attributed to Zhang Zeduan was also thought highly of by the Qianlong emperor. The handscroll as a whole includes several sections, such as rustic scenery, a colorful bridal procession, the main arched bridge and market, city walls, and various bridges and waterfront activities. The poses of the figures are rendered with exceptional refinement, and the various activities and shops are all dazzling in this exceptional imitation by a Suzhou painter in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).