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  • Copy of Gu Kaizhi's “Goddess of the Luo River”Ding Guanpeng (fl. 1708-1771), Qing dynasty

    Ding Guanpeng excelled at Buddhist and Daoist subjects as well as landscapes. He once studied painting under the Italian Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining, 1688-1766) and was strongly influenced by Western methods of art.

    This painting on the subject of the “Goddess of the Luo River” includes not only a single figure composition but also a grand and spectacular narrative scene. The depiction follows the narrative details of the text, from resting and startling the beauty to the departure and return. Although this handscroll is purportedly a copy, it is a full-blown colorful “blue-and-green” landscape with the proportional relationship between figures and landscape motifs more accurately done. Ding Guanpeng, by adding Western methods of shading and perspective for the facial features and bodies of the horses, as well as spatial depth, has created a style of his own.

  • Raising the Alms Bowl Attributed to Qiu Ying (ca. 1482-1559), Ming dynasty

    The story of raising the alms bowl is found not only in Buddhist scriptures but also in the story of “Hariti Taking Refuge” in the Yuan dynasty drama Journey to the West. Both sources expound the greatness of Buddhism and how evil can be overcome and even serve as a protector of the faith.

    Utmost effort was made in this painting to depict all kinds of demons doing everything possible to try unsuccessfully to raise an alms bowl placed over Pingala, the son of Hariti, devourer of children later converted by the Buddha and who became the goddess of children. The figures, trees, and earthen forms are precisely rendered, the brushwork fine and coloring bright and beautiful. “Blue-and-green” landscapes such as this with bright colors and fine brushwork are often ascribed to Qiu Ying, but most are by later artists with his name added.

  • “Text on Dispelling the Ghost of Weariness”and a Landscape Huang Yingchen (fl. 1644-1722), Qing

    Huang Yingchen excelled at painting figures, ghost judgements, and children.

    The artist did this painting based on “Text on Dispelling the Ghost of Weariness” written by Shen Shixing (1535-1614) of the Ming dynasty, which is inscribed in the upper right. In a courtyard study is a seated figure dozing off as a strange disheveled person drags himself towards him; the Ghost of Weariness has arrived. The use of colors is beautifully superb despite the uneasy atmosphere that pervades the scene. The transcription of “Text on Dispelling the Ghost of Weariness” in the upper right describes how when arranging manuscripts, the author grew weary after months and months, so he wrote this text to dispel the Ghost of Weariness yet still dozed off. Seeing the Ghost of Weariness arrive, he had a conversation with it and thus became inspired. Painting and text agree with each other here, the contents serving as food for thought for the viewer.

  • Zhou Wenju’s “Yü the Great Controlling Floods” with an Imperial Inscription Anonymous, Qing dynasty

    This tapestry shows layers of faceted lofty peaks with raging waters and mountains filled with ancient trees and mysterious grottoes. Groups of figures among the mountains and cliffs are excavating and building as they create a channel to direct the waters, representing the legend of Yü the Great developing the land to control and prevent floods. In the Qing dynasty, the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795) praised Yü and expressed reverence for the methods used by ancient sage-rulers.

    This work is the same composition as Xie Sui’s “After a Tang Painting on ‘Yü the Great Controlling Floods’,” so the tapestry was probably based on it. The method of silk tapestry involves using a simple plain-weave wooden loom, in which the warp threads are continuous but the weft threads partial to create the imagery.