The Making of Masterpieces: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Palace Museum

Attributed to Yu Shinan (558–638)
Copy of the Orchid Pavilion Preface in Running Script

As the Hong Kong Palace Museum enters its second month after its grand opening, the Museum is delighted to present the second rotation of the special exhibition “The Making of Masterpieces: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Palace Museum” in Gallery 8. From 3 August, visitors to this exhibition will have the rare opportunity to view fifteen precious early art treasures, including the highly anticipated masterpiece Nymph of the Luo River attributed to the Eastern Jin dynasty painter Gu Kaizhi (346–407), a towering figure in the history of Chinese painting. Another iconic work on display is the Copy of the Orchid Pavilion Preface in Running Script attributed to the famed Tang dynasty calligrapher Yu Shinan (558–638).

The fifteen masterpieces featured are all grade-one national treasures, some of which are over 1,000 years of age. In the Palace Museum’s collection of over 1.86 million works, they stand out as crown jewels. In order to protect these time-honoured and fragile treasures, they will be displayed at the HKPM for the duration of one month until 4 September, after which they will be returned to the Palace Museum and placed in storage for at least three years before they can be put on public view again.

Jointly organised by the HKPM and the Palace Museum, “The Making of Masterpieces: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Palace Museum” is one of the HKPM’s opening special exhibitions. Thirty-five paintings and calligraphic works from the Jin, Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties were carefully selected from the Palace Museum’s prestigious collection to explore how these works came to be “masterpieces” from the perspectives of art, culture, history and more. The exhibition comprises three rotations, each lasting some thirty days. The fifteen works on view from 3 August are all works by renowned artists or copies of important early works in the history of Chinese painting and calligraphy. These national treasures not only reflect the outstanding achievements of early masters, but also tell important stories of how they were created, transmitted, and appreciated over centuries. Some of them were collected and treasured by emperors.

To celebrate this inaugural special exhibition, the HKPM is proud to announce its first Chinese language publication titled The Making of Masterpieces: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Palace Museum  國之瑰寶——故宮博物院藏晉唐宋元書畫, which is now available for sale at the Museum’s pop-up store at LG floor. Jointly edited and published by the Palace Museum and the HKPM, and produced by the Palace Museum Press, the publication explores how the 35 paintings and calligraphy works have become such highly collectible masterpieces after thousands of years. Written by a team of leading experts from the HKPM, the Palace Museum, and around the world, this scholarly publication includes eight essays and thirty entries that delve into how these works became “masterpieces”. It also contains transcriptions of all inscriptions and seals on each work. The English language catalogue of this exhibition, jointly published by the HKPM and the Palace Museum, will be available soon.