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Landscape and Poetry in 17th- and 18th-Century China
Media only: Brenda Kean Tabor: 202.357.4880 ext. 319
Barbara Kram: 202.357.4880 ext. 219
Public only: 202.357.2700

"Chinese Arts of the Brush, 17th -18th century," a new exhibition of 17 landscape paintings and calligraphy will be on view at the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art (Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, S.W.) from Jan. 21 through July 22, 2001. Focussing on the work of artists living in the Yangzi Delta and the Yellow Mountains in Anhui province between 1638 and 1752, the exhibition discusses the broadening of themes and styles that flourished during this period.

This time of artistic growth was stimulated in part by the stability that followed the Manchu invasion in 1644. Economic prosperity encouraged increased patronage that in turn led to the migration of artists to these regions. Although the canon formulated during the late Ming dynasty by the great calligrapher, painter and art critic Dong Qichang (1555 - 1636) continued to define mainstream painting and calligraphy in much of China, some of the artists in these regions began to formulate a distinct style based on the direct observation of nature.

Included in this exhibition are works by three eminent Anhui and Yangzhou landscape painters: Cheng Sui (1607 - 1692), Zhang Xun (mid - 17th century) and Fang Hengxian (1620 - 1679). They often traveled together. Work by Hongren (1610 - 1664), who was one of the Four Great Monk Painters of the early Qing dynasty, and by the innovative and idiosyncratic Buddhist monk Shitao (1642 - 1707) are also on view.

The scholarly large-character running cursive script of Fa Ruozhen (1613 - 1696) can also be seen, as well as four poems in cursive-seal script by Yang Fa (1696 - after 1762), an eccentric poet from Yangzhou. Paintings by an anonymous artist from the Nanjing school and by Chen Mei (ca. 1694 - ca. 1745) demonstrate how traditional themes and composition were influenced by techniques of perspective that were introduced by Jesuit missionaries to China.

The Freer Gallery of Art (12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W.) and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (1050 Independence Ave. S.W.) together form the national museum of Asian art for the United States. The Freer also houses a major collection of late 19th and early 20th-century American art. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Christmas Day, Dec. 25, and admission is free. Public tours are offered daily. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For more information, the public may call 202.357.2700 or TTY 202.357.1729, or visit the galleries' Web site at

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