The Four Seasons

January 28–August 13, 2006

Chinese art explores both the transient and the eternal aspects of the natural world and sees in both the beauty and poignancy of the human condition. Narrative paintings present didactic and poetic chronicles of the agricultural calendar. Landscapes not only evoke atmospheric conditions and times of day, but also convey a particular mood or political commentary: a vernal scene may symbolize the flourishing conditions of a well-ordered state; a winterscape may imply conditions that are hostile to virtue and talent. Flower paintings serve not only as seasonal markers but also as emblems of specific virtues. As seen in these poetic works from the Museum's collection, artists imbued nature with rich layers of personal and cultural significance.