VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Tiger seen from above
AK-RAK-1991-10
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Gao Qipei believed one should allow the hand to paint of its own accord, without 'guidance'. He was fascinated by the unpredictability of a line drawn with one or more fingers or with the nails. Some lines are clearly made with a rapid stroke of the hand, for example the contours of the paws. At other points it appears that he has thrown the ink at the paper. Gao Qipei's direct, spontaneous way of painting fits closely with Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy based on the ideas of Lao Tse (c. 500 BC). Taoists (from 'tao', the way, the correct path) follow the 'great road', as close to nature as is possible. Things are deliberately allowed to take their course, without being forced.

History of the Object
The Chinese painter Gao Qipei (1660-1734) probably saw the animal while out hunting tigers. On the way he made sketches. This large vertical scroll he painted later in his studio. The fresh, spontaneous impression made by the painting is due to Gao Qipei's unusual method of working. Instead of a brush, he uses his fingers to apply the ink and colours to the paper, a method for which he is famous. At upper right Gao Qipei wrote the following text: 'Life with the fingers from the man from outside the Shanhai gate'.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Ink and colours on paper 
Measurements
105,3 x 51,5 cm 
Creator name
Gao Qipe 
Creator date
1660-1734 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 17th century ~ AD 18th century 
Creation date
17th Century - 18th Century; 1660-1734 
Function
Scroll paintings: Many Chinese paintings are made in the form of scrolls, and can be rolled up for storage. The actual painting is fixed to a long silk support. A thin wooden slat is attached to the top of the scroll, and at the bottom there is a wooden roll with finials at either end, made of wood, ivory or buffalo horn. Scroll paintings can be hung on a wall and viewed in their entirety. This in contrast to horizontal scrolls, which are viewed on a table or other flat surface. As the scroll is unrolled the painting is gradually revealed. 
Acquisition
purchase 1991 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Rijksmuseum Amterdam 
Museum
Rijksmuseum 
Credit line
 

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