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The Qutang Gorge

Fu Baoshi Chinese

Not on view

The Qutang Gorge, located along the upper reaches of the Yangzi River in western China, has long been celebrated in literature and art for its grandeur and danger. Living in nearby Chongqing during the Sino-Japanese War, Fu Baoshi repeatedly painted its spectacular scenery. His diagonal composition intensifies the sense of the river’s momentum while his juxtaposition of wispy sails against the implacable cliffs suggests the ephemerality of human existence.

In this painting, Fu transcribed a poem by the Sichuan poet Lü Qian (1621–1706) on the theme of homesickness. It resonates with his own sorrow over his forced dislocation from Nanjing, situated on the lower Yangzi River to the east:

A few sails float on the river beyond the pavilion.
Standing so long against the west wind, my temples turn gray.
Only my homesick heart does not flow eastward downstream,
Since it long ago followed the misty moon up the Qutang Gorge.

The Qutang Gorge, Fu Baoshi (Chinese, 1904–1965), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, China

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