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A Heritage in Retrospect: Special Exhibition of the Palace Museum Collection on the 60th Anniversary of the Construction of the Badashanren Memorial Hall

Updated: 2019-09-13 15:50:00
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Location: Badashanren Memorial Hall, Nanchang, Jiangxi Province
Dates: 2019-09-13 through 2019-12-13

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Exhibition Stages:
I. Historical Legacy: 23 September – 22 October
II. Artistic Comparison: 23 October – 22 November
III. Continuing Legacy: 23 November – 13 December
(Please note that different works will be showcased during these stages.)

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Bamboo and Orchids among Rocks hanging scroll by Zheng Xie (1693–1766)

On 24 September 2019, after over a year of diligent preparations, the Palace Museum and the People’s Government of Nanchang opened the jointly organized “A Heritage in Retrospect: Special Exhibition of the Palace Museum Collection on the 60th Anniversary of the Construction of the Badashanren Memorial Hall” at Badashanren Memorial Hall, Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. The following morning, Wang Hu, a research fellow in the Palace Museum’s Department of Paintings and Calligraphy, presented the lecture “Deer Themed Paintings of Bada Shanren’s Later Years.”

Bada Shanren was the style name of the artist Zhu Da (1626–1705), who was one of the Four Monks (Si seng) of painting at the beginning of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). As a descendant of the Prince of Ning, Zhu Quan (1378–1448), the seventeenth son of the Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang, r. 1368–1398) of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Zhu Da concealed his name and later became a monk after the fall of the Ming to the Qing dynasty. Due to his turbulent life of hardship and the time in which he lived, his works often show the complexity of his feelings for home and country.

Established in 1959 and located in Qingyunpu District in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, Badashanren Memorial Hall is China’s oldest memorial hall dedicated to an historical painter and is an important heritage site under state protection. The Hall comprises the old gallery, the Qingyunpu Daoist temple (the name of which means lit. “Azure Cloud Genealogy”) where Bada Shanren once resided, and the new gallery, a specially built venue to display the artist’s original works.

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Bird painting from an album by Li Shan (1686–1756)

“A Heritage in Retrospect,” located on the second floor of the new gallery in the exhibition hall for contemporary paintings and calligraphy, presents fifty-eight paintings or sets of painted works from the Yuan (1279–1368), Ming, and Qing dynasties and the Republican era (1912–1949) by twenty-seven painters from the collection of the Palace Museum. The theme emphasizes “Retrospection” and “Heritage” in harmony with the Memorial Hall’s unique purpose and as a showcase of China’s rich legacy of painting. Bada Shanren’s paintings of birds and flowers were inspired by the works of artists such as Lin Liang (ca. 1428–1494) and Xu Wei (1521–1593) while he emulated the art of Dong Qichang (1555–1636), Huang Gongwang (1269–1354), Ni Zan (1301–1374), and others in his landscapes. His works present a vigorous energy in the midst of simple leisure. This exhibition of the aforementioned artists’ works allows for a vivid interpretation of their role in shaping Bada Shanren’s painting style. Due to Bada Shanren’s influence on later generations of painters, such as those in the area of Yangzhou and painters in the Shanghai school, the exhibition also includes works by artists like Zheng Xie (1693–1766), Li Shan (1686–1756), Qi Baishi (1864–1957), and Wu Changshuo (1844–1927) who developed his styles and techniques. The diverse combination is complemented by the Memorial Hall’s original works by Bada Shanren in an historic exhibition that is sure to be a delight to visitors.

Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying

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