Chinese painting

Eighteenth century album leaf by Leng Mei, on display in the exhibition Gods, Guardians and Immortals

Project leaders: Clarissa von Spee and Jan Stuart

Department: Asia

Project start: July 2006
End date: June 2009

Other British Museum staff: Mary Ginsberg, Tanya Szrajber, Keith Southwell, Meixin Wang

Other departments: Conservation and Scientific Research

External partners: Palace Museum, Beijing; Shanghai Museum, Shanghai; National Palace Museum, Taipei; Tsinghua University, Beijing; Meishu Xueyuan, Beijing

Project funded by: The British Museum: China Strategy Budget

Description:

Twentieth century handscroll with landscape by Zhu Xiuli

This project is focussing on the later Chinese paintings in the Department of Asia. While some of these painting are well-known, the great majority – about 1500 in all – have never been studied and published.

The collection is being researched and catalogued in partnership with scholars from a number of museums and universities including the Palace Museum, Beijing; the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai; the National Palace Museum, Taipei; Tsinghua University, Beijing; and Meishu Xueyuan, Beijing.  Visiting scholars, who generally spend a month at the British Museum, are examining the seals and inscriptions on the paintings and reviewing existing attributions and reference materials.

 

Objectives:

Neil MacGregor with Yu Hui, visiting scholar from the Palace Museum, Jane Portal, Assistant Keeper, and Jan Stuart, Keeper, Department of Asia

The aim of this project is to produce an online catalogue via the British Museum’s Merlin collections database. Each painting will have at least one digital image and be given a full description. Attributions will be recorded, including the latest findings by the scholars visiting the museum as part of the scheme.

Progress in this project is being marked by periodic exhibitions in the temporary exhibition gallery of the Department of Asia (Room 91). The most recent exhibition was Gods, Guardians and Immortals: Chinese religious paintings (February-July 2007).


Images (from top):

  • Eighteenth century album leaf by Leng Mei
  • Twentieth century handscroll with landscape by Zhu Xiuli
  • Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, with Yu Hui, visiting scholar from the Palace Museum, Jane Portal, former curator, and Jan Stuart, Keeper, Department of Asia