In with the old

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2009, 12:00am

The Prosperous Cities
Hong Kong Museum of Art

This loan exhibition from the Liaoning Provincial Museum, best known for its antiquities collections, at the Hong Kong Museum of Art showcases 15 paintings from the Ming (1368 to 1644) and Qing (1644 to 1911) dynasties on the theme of prosperous cities. The show is of great historical interest not only because the works on show offer detailed depictions of China's urban wealth during those periods but also because most of the old paintings were once prized possessions of the Qing emperor Qianlong.

The centrepieces are Prosperous Suzhou, a hand-scroll by Qing court painter named Xu Yang from the reign of Qianlong (1735 to 1796) and 17th-century painter Wang Yuanqi's Ten Views of West Lake.

The colours, details and scenes on Xu's ink hand-scroll are surprisingly vivid; an examination reveals merchants and traders going about their business, workmen labouring on rooftops, crowds enjoying Chinese opera and even a big wedding.

Wang's Ten Views of West Lake focuses more on the artist's expression and admiration for the picturesque location. To make the two pieces relevant to viewers, the museum has mounted enlarged replicas at the gallery entrance, juxtaposing scenes depicted by the painters with photos of the sites.

Also on show are two good 'imitations' of the renowned Northern Song (980 to 1127) hand-scroll painting Along the River During Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan; one by Huang Nian painted in 1774 and the other by Ming dynasty painter Qiu Ying (below).

Until Nov 22. 10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui. Admission HK$10, Wed free. Inquiries: 2721 0116