Old Tales Retold: Chinese Narrative Painting
April 20–October 20, 2013
Freer Gallery of Art
Twenty-three paintings relay lively stories about famous people and events in Chinese history. The primary intent behind many of the paintings was to promote certain Confucian moral principles and ideals. Consequently, these works often focus on individuals who exhibited positive character traits in their lives, such as humility, loyalty, studiousness, or dedication to the greater good, and who are recognized as paragons of virtue or exemplars of ethical behavior. Along the way, viewers meet emperors and kings, officials, scholars, philosophers, and sages, and become acquainted with the particular incidents, acts, or encounters that illustrate their especially admired personal qualities. Many of the stories present unexpected insights into both the particular values espoused by traditional Chinese culture and the universality of human experience.