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Exploring the Development of Painting in China through the UMAG Collection (Eng. only)
Text: Shing-Kwan Chan, Kenneth

Chinese painting as a form of art has its own distinctive traditions and history. Some believe that Chinese painting has its origins intimately intertwined with the invention of the written script, in the actions of the primeval god Fuxi (伏羲), who at the dawn of time systematized images that were present in nature. Between the Han (漢朝; 206 BC - 220 AD) and Sui (隋朝; 581-618) dynasties, artists started to create elaborate, detailed images of the royal and feudal courts. Some of the earliest works depicting court lives of emperors and lords, their ladies, and the officials have been preserved in burial sites and tombs. During this time, individual artists such as Gu Kaizhi (顧愷之; c. 344–406) began to emerge.

Widely considered as the golden age of Chinese art and civilization, painting progressed dramatically in both technique and subject matter between the Tang (唐朝; 618-907) and Yuan (元朝; 1271-1368) dynasties. The Tang dynasty witnessed the development and growing popularity of the landscape painting tradition otherwise known as shanshui (山水畫) painting, which became popularly practiced by amateur 'literati' painters. The stylistic and technical advancements also had a lasting influence in other parts of East Asia.


After decades of active growth and expansion, the collection at UMAG now encompasses Chinese paintings which span a period of more than 500 years. Like a stroll through the historical development of the painted art in China, the UMAG collection takes us from the major schools of the Ming and Qing period to the experimental works of twentieth-century artists, providing a rich and unique experience of exploring China's painting traditions of more than half a millennium. 


Lan Ying 藍瑛, Bamboo and Rock 竹石圖, c. 17th century. Ink on silk. From the UMAG collection

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