From the standpoint of splendid scenery, painting cannot equal [real] landscape. But when it comes to the wonders of brush and ink, [real] landscape is no match for painting!
—Dong Qichang (1555–1636)
About a thousand years ago, the Chinese landscape painter Guo Xi posed the question, "In what does a gentleman's love of landscape consist?" This question is at the heart of the exhibition, which explores the many uses of landscape in the Chinese visual arts.
This exhibition, which showcases more than 120 Chinese landscape paintings in three rotations, offers insights into the tradition and reveals distinctions between types of landscape that might not be obvious at first glance. What initially appears to be a simple mountain dwelling, for example, turns out to be the villa of the painter's friend, encoding a wish for his happy retirement. Similarly, what seems at first to be a simple study in dry brushwork turns out to be an homage to an old master, an expression of reverence for what has come before.
Drawn primarily from The Met's holdings and supplemented by a dozen private loans, the presentation is augmented by decorative art objects with landscape themes.
The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.
Ten Thousand Miles along the Yellow River (detail), datable to 1690–1722. Chinese, Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Two handscrolls; ink, color, and gold on silk, image: 30 11/16 x 505 7/8 in. (78 x 1285 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, W. M. Keck Foundation Gift, The Dillon Fund Gift and gifts from various donors, in memory of Douglas Dillon, 2006 (2006.272a, b)