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Future exhibition

Permanent Exhibition
The Leisurely and Elegant Life of Literati
The most common perception in imagining the daily life of literati in ancient times, beyond their scholarly pursuits of poetry and studies, is probably their engagement in cultural activities such as playing the zither and Go as well as doing calligraphy and painting. This exhibition presents a selection of calligraphic works and paintings that span various dynastic periods, subject matter, script types, mounting formats, and artistic styles with the aim of inviting everyone to appreciate and imagine in more detail the lives of literati in the past.
  This exhibition features several paintings of garden studios and scholar retreats. These works dealing with gardens and other aspects of the living spaces among literati often convey their sense of self-identity and a certain attachment to home. Scenes of such activities as sitting at leisure, enjoying a banquet, admiring blossoms, and gazing at the moon frequently include like-minded friends to portray an idealized literati vision of what was sought in daily life. Paintings of bamboo and rocks or potted calamus also may have captured the corner of a garden setting or décor within a scholarly abode. In rendering such still-life studies, literati artists aimed to convey the qualities of elegance, loftiness, and pure refinement that these objects embodied. These artworks thus were not only for appreciation but also served as vehicles for the self-inspiration and self-expression of the artists.
  Calligraphic writing was the most direct and accessible medium for the literati to express their aspirations and emotions. Whether composing poetry and prose, corresponding with friends and family, transcribing classic texts, or adorning walls with couplet hanging scrolls, all such activities could demonstrate one’s temperament and talent. Rubbings taken from steles and bronze vessels also reflected their keen interest in collecting and studying ancient artifacts. Moreover, the diverse seals found on their works allow us to vividly imagine how these literati once carved and handled the seal stones, turning them over and over again in a playful, meditative manner.
  With this in mind, we welcome you to “A Space for Brush and Ink,” where you can immerse yourself and spend time in the calligraphy, painting, and collecting activities of traditional literati. Come and step into this realm to experience the leisurely and elegant lifestyle of the past brought to life here in the present.
Exhibition Information
  • Event Date Permanent Exhibition
  • Location 2F S203
Qiu Ying (ca. 1494-1552), Ming dynasty
Playing a Ruan in the Shade of a Pine
Under a tall pine tree beside a stream are two scholars who have taken off their shoes and are sitting across from each other on animal skins to play the zither and ruan, the sounds of which seem to blend with those of nature. This arrangement reflects the elegant refinement of literati at that time about where to play musical instruments for enjoyment.
  It can be seen from the inscription on this work that it was done in 1549 by Qiu Ying, a professional painter from Suzhou. The figures in the painting are depicted with slender lines that are barely discernible, which are reminiscent of the "ancient gossamer tracings" of the famous figure painter Gu Kaizhi (ca. 345-406) of the Eastern Jin dynasty as recorded in Chinese painting histories. The extreme refinement differs from Qiu Ying's usually more opulent and colorful painting style and may have been an ingenious adjustment made in response to what a literati patron expected in terms of conveying the essence of antiquity.
Liu Jue (1410-1472), Ming dynasty
Qingbai Studio
"Qingbai Studio" was the study of the early Ming dynasty Suzhou literati painter Liu Jue. In the summer of 1458, his monk friend by the name "Xitian shangren" brought some wine and food to Qingbai Studio for a joyful gathering and asked Liu Jue to paint and write poetry to remember the occasion.
  Liu Jue used gentle brushwork to place the studio in this painting within the landscape style of Wu Zhen (1280-1354), a scholar-artist of the Yuan dynasty. In the hut near the water, a scholar and monk are seated across from each other and most likely represent Liu Jue and Xitian. The scholar leaning on the railing and looking out is Xue Ying, who had come to enjoy the occasion and write poetry together with them. Liu Jue described in special detail the screen in the house to the rear right. The bamboo painting hanging on that screen must have been an artwork of particular significance to him at Qingbai Studio.
Huang Bingzhong (fl. 15th-16th c.), Ming dynasty
Shen Shixing's Shishi Garden
"Shishi Garden" was located in Suzhou and built by the prime minister Shen Shixing (1535-1614) after his retirement from office in 1591. In the fifth lunar month of the 33rd year of the Wanli reign (1605), at the request of his friend Xiang Shiduan from Huizhou, the Suzhou painter Huang Bingzhong depicted the apricot platform, willow pond, peach blossom bank, waterside bamboo residence, peony pavilion, bamboo path, lotus pond, chrysanthemum garden, and Cixian Hall of the garden in ten album leaves. The left side of the leaves is paired with poetry by Shen Shixing in praise of the garden scenery. This type of album depicting a literati garden studio became a trend in the Ming dynasty. From it, one can sense the literati interest in building gardens and see how they cherished these residences and the lifestyle they idealized.
  The inscriptions by Shen Shixing in this album were written in coarse brushwork, and it is thus suspected to be a copy based on the original.
Feng Fang (1494-after 1565), Ming dynasty
Seven Songs of Nanjing
Feng Fang, a native of Ningbo, was a famous connoisseur-collector and calligrapher. When his family fell on hard times, his collection was scattered and he faced a life of destitution. In addition to his transcription of the "Seven Songs of Nanjing," this work also contains two other pieces entitled "Chanting in a Cold Rain" and "Miscellaneous Narrative on Lying in Sickbed on a Winter Night Also Done as a Self Elegy." According to Feng Fang's own admission, what he transcribed here were all "words of sadness and suffering," and that he was "without sustenance for days and had become increasingly ill." Even though the situation was dire, Feng Fang's approach to asking for assistance from his friends remained elegant and dignified. He transcribed these poems in a quick and vigorous style of calligraphy and hoped to receive help from Li Youxuan.
Anonymous, Republican period (1911-present)
Ink Rubbing of a Palace Museum Bronze Ding Cauldron
"Full-form rubbing" was a new method of doing ink rubbings developed in the 19th century by rubbing parts of an object, assembling them carefully together, and then adding finishing touches of painting to fill in and modify them to create a three-dimensional representation to record the shape, decoration, and/or inscription(s) of the object.
  Due to financial constraints, the Palace Museum in its early years carried out full-form rubbings of various important bronzes in its collection from the 18th to the 21st years of the Republic of China (1929-1932), and a red-sealed printed edition of "Record of Bronze and Stone Rubbings from the Palace Museum Antiquities Hall" was put on sale. This rubbing was taken from the late Western Zhou bronze "ding" cauldron of Yong in the Museum and was actually an important copy at a time when photography was not yet readily available for recording the collection.