VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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8 album leaves
DUROM.GQ13
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Gong Xian is considered to be one of the masters of late Ming/early Qing painting. The subject matter of these album leaves is taken to be the four seasons plus four transitions, a popular topic reflecting the change and impermanence that exist in human life as much as nature. This is intended both as a reminder and a comfort.

History of the Object
Gong Xian’s life was greatly affected by the cataclysmic changes resulting from the fall of the Ming dynasty. His hopes for a comfortable life as a scholar official were dashed and although he is regarded as part of the wenren ‘literati’ painting tradition, he was forced to ‘abase’ himself and become a professional painter.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Ink and slight colour on paper 
Measurements
height 34cm, width 35cm 
Creator name
Attributed to Gong Xian 龔賢 
Creator date
1618-1689 CE 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 17th century ~ AD 17th century 
Creation date
17th Century; Qing Dynasty, 1644-1689 CE 
Function
Landscape painting and calligraphy were the ultimate expressions of art in traditional China. The ideal for the scholar was to commune with nature, walking among the mountains and streams, but this was generally not practicable for a busy official, so taking out a landscape painting and allowing the mind to wander its paths was a substitute for this. 
Acquisition
Gift from Dr H N Spalding in the 1950s 
Copyright
Copyright owned by Durham University Oriental Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Owned by Durham University Oriental Museum 
Museum
Oriental Museum 
Credit line
Gift from Dr H N Spalding 

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