Em­peror’s riches show heads to Hous­ton mu­seum

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton mayzhou@chi­nadai­lyusa.com Tif­fany Wang in Hous­ton contributed to this story.

Hous­ton is get­ting a rare treat: a chance to see the art col­lec­tions of nine of the rich­est and most pow­er­ful Chi­nese span­ning more than 800 years.

Em­per­ors’ Trea­sures: Chi­nese Art From the Na­tional Palace Mu­seum, Taipei, will open on Sun­day and run un­til the end of Jan­uary at the Mu­seum of Fine Arts Hous­ton (MFAH). More than 160 works of art from the renowned col­lec­tions of the Na­tional Palace Mu­seum in Taipei will be on dis­play.

James Watt, cu­ra­tor, Met

The ex­hi­bi­tion fea­ture a se­lec­tion of paint­ings, cal­lig­ra­phy, bronzes and dec­o­ra­tive arts col­lected by eight em­per­ors and one em­press who ruled be­tween the early 12th cen­tury Song Dy­nasty and the early 20th cen­tury Qing Dy­nasty.

Gary Tin­terow, di­rec­tor of the MFAH, re­called his visit to Tai­wan three years ago with the goal of se­cur­ing a prom­ise to ex­hibit the palace art in Hous­ton.

“We are grate­ful to the Na­tional Palace Mu­seum, Taipei. It has some 600,000 ob­jects, all com­ing from im­pe­rial col­lec­tions once housed in the im­pe­rial palace in the For­bid­den City in Bei­jing. They are un­matched in rar­ity and scope. It’s a tremen­dous gift for us to en­joy some of the pieces for the next three months,” Tin­terow said.

Last time the art­work from the Na­tional Palace Mu­seum vis­ited the United States was in 1996, when an ex­hibit was held in New York and Wash­ing­ton. This year’s ex­hibit was first held in San Fran­cisco, and will visit Hous­ton for the first time.

Jasper Lin, di­rec­tor of Na­tional Palace Mu­seum, said that the ob­jects give au­di­ences an idea of the artis­tic tastes of the nine im­pe­rial fig­ures.

“They rep­re­sent the history of Chi­nese art de­vel­op­ment. Dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal back­grounds and po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious ideas are re­flected in those art ob­jects,” com­mented Lin.

Lin said that the Hous­ton ex­hibit was ex­tended for about a month un­til Chi­nese New Year. “It costs a lot of money for the art to travel to Hous­ton. We hope to give peo­ple more time to en­joy them,” Lin said.

James Watt, cu­ra­tor emer­i­tus and for­mer chair­man of Asian art at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art in New York, is an or­ga­niz­ing cu­ra­tor of this ex­hi­bi­tion. “The art­works and ob­jects dis­played in Em­per­ors’ Trea­sures cel­e­brate the cul­tural con­tri­bu­tions of th­ese sig­nif­i­cant im­pe­rial rulers, il­lus­trat­ing their roles as distin­guished pa­trons of art, and often, as gifted artists.”

Watt said that the first ex­hibit of the im­pe­rial col­lec­tions in the West was Lon­don in 1935. China’s im­mi­nent war with Ja­pan led to the can­cel­la­tion of a US ex­hibit.

“The Lon­don ex­hi­bi­tion had a huge im­pact and in­spired quite a few to be­come schol­ars study­ing Chi­nese art. One of them was Wil­liam Wil­lets. He was orig­i­nally an en­gi­neer. He was so in­spired by that ex­hibit that he went on to be­come a well-known Chi­nese art scholar. That ex­hi­bi­tion pro­duced a gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese art schol­ars,” Watt said.

In 1963, in appreciation of the US help­ing raise funds to build the Na­tional Palace Mu­seum, some of the best pieces were ex­hib­ited in the US, said Watt.

The art­work ... cel­e­brate the cul­tural con­tri­bu­tions of th­ese sig­nif­i­cant im­pe­rial rulers.”


James Watt (left), cu­ra­tor emer­i­tus and for­mer chair­man of Asian art at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art in New York, talks about the unique­ness of Gourd Vase With De­sign of Sc rolling

Lo­tus made of mold-grown gourd from the Qing Dy­nasty (1644– 1911) at the ex­hibit preview of Em­per­ors’Trea­sures on Wed­nes­day in Hous­ton.

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