The National Palace Museum (Taipei, Taiwan) has announced plans for a major exhibition where for the first time in centuries the two parts of the handscroll 'Dwelling in the Fu-ch'un Mountains' (Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains) will be reunited after the unique work had been torned in two.
Painted by Huang Gongwang (黃公望, 1269-1354), original name Lu Jian (陸堅) between the years of 1347 and 1350, the handscroll depicts an idealized panorama of the Fuchun Mountains, west of Hangzhou.
At 82 years of age, Huang presented it to Taoist Master Wuyong (無用師)) as a gift in 1350.
A century later the scroll is acquired by Ming Dynasty painter Shen Zhou (沈周, 1427–1509) who sent the painting to a calligrapher for inscription. However the calligrapher's son seized the painting which, after a few changes of hands, reemerged on the market at a much higher price. Unable to afford the price, there was nothing Shen Zhou could do except to make a copy of the painting himself.
The imitation was given by Shen Zhou to his friend Fan Shunju (樊舜舉) who began to search for the authentic.
When he found it, he bought it at a hefty price and invited Shen Zhou to inscribe on it. Shen Zhou then noted down at the end of the scroll the story of how the painting was lost and found.
A copy that is also well acclaimed and is now in the Palace Museum in Beijing.
Over the following centuries, the painting had come to know several owners, including Wu Zhengzhi (吳正志) who left it to his third son Wu Hongyu (吳洪裕).
Wu Honyu cherished the painting so much that when he went on refuge during the invasion of the Manchu, he only brought the painting and a copy of the Thousand Character Classic (千字文) by Master Zhiyong (智永法師), leaving all other valuables behind.
Hongyu decided to have the two works burned, so that he could bring them to the netherworld.
Fortunately his nephew Wu Jing'an (吳靜庵) rescued the painting, which was however already aflame and torn into two.
The first and smaller piece, measuring 51.4 cm, was subsequently renamed The Remaining Mountain or Shenshan Mountain (剩山圖) and after passing through the hands of numerous collectors is now in Zhejiang Provincial Museum in Hangzhou.
The second, comprised of 6 pages totaling 636.9 cm in length, went through the hands of several high-level Qing Dynasty officials, including Gao Shiqi (高士奇) and Wang Hongxu (王鴻緒), before landing in the Imperial Palace.
Named the Master Wuyong Scroll (無用師卷), was in the opinion of Emperor Qianlong, who prided himself in his connoisseurship, a conterfeit. A mistake that was only corrected in 1816, during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing.
This piece was eventually brought to Taiwan after the Kuomintang lost the civil war and is now kept in the National Palace Museum in Taipei.
The "Landscape Reunified: Huang Kung-Wang and the 'Dwelling in the Fu-ch'un Mountains' Scrolls" special exhibition will also include other works by Huang, works by his mentors and works that he influenced in the National Palace Museum collection, as well as the "Shenshan Mountain" scroll held by the Zhejiang Museum, and other calligraphy and paintings borrowed from the Beijing Palace Museum, the National Museum of China, Shanghai Museum, Nanjing Museum and the Yunnan Provincial Museum.
Included in a series of educational activities, calligraphers and painters from China and Taiwan will be invited to visit the birthplace of this painting-Fuyang City, Hanzhou of Zhejiang Province-to create new water and ink paintings on the theme of "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains."
The "Landscape Reunified: Huang Kung-Wang and the 'Dwelling in the Fu-ch'un Mountains' Scrolls" exhibition is an historical event not to be missed and a chance to know more about the artist who was orphaned at an early age and exceptionally gifted as a youth, mastering the Chinese classics at an early age.