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Gems of Chinese painting: a voyage along the Yangzi River

Xiang Shengmo (1597–1658), Reading in the Autumn Mountains. Ming dynasty, 1623. (Detail).

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION entitled Gems of Chinese painting: a voyage along the Yangzi River will be on display at the British Museum (Room 91) from April 3 to August 31, 2014.

Visitors can discover the beauty and culture of south-east China in this selection of paintings dating from the 6th to the 19th centuries. The display includes the famous Admonitions Scroll (from June 5) and examples of rare porcelain from the region.

The Yangzi River runs through an area of south-east China known as Jiangnan (literally ‘south of the river’) that has been one of the country’s most prosperous and culturally productive regions.

The paintings and ceramics in the exhibition reflect the diverse life of its inhabitants, such as the elegant literati scholars and wealthy merchants, as well as fishermen and farmers.

Landscape paintings from along the Yangzi River show lush, fertile fields and rolling hills and highlight the region’s famous gardens. Paintings and ceramics from Jiangnan show a regional style and taste that have shaped in great part our image of traditional China.

Jiangnan is also a region where some of the finest examples of the Chinese concept of the three arts – poetry, calligraphy and painting – were produced. It is the home of China’s patriarchs of calligraphy and painting, including Gu Kaizhi (c. 344–406).

The famous Admonitions Scroll, traditionally attributed to Gu Kaizhi, is an early example for the combination of the three arts. It is one of the most important Chinese paintings to survive anywhere in the world.

Due to its fragility and for conservation reasons, it is rarely shown and will now be on display in the exhibition between June 5 and July 16. After this, visitors will be able to see a digital version of the scroll on an interactive touchscreen.

Admission: Free.

Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 5.30pm; Fridays, 10am to 8.30pm.

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG


Tel: 020 7323 8299

Vikings: life and legend continues at the British Museum until June 22, 2014.