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Guoyun Lou Collection to feature at Museum of Art


Seventy-two pieces of Chinese painting and calligraphy from the Guoyun Lou Collection of the Shanghai Museum will be on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from tomorrow (March 21).

The exhibition - Selection from the Guoyun Lou Collection of the Shanghai Museum - features works from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties to the early 20th century. Famous works include Landscape Scenes at Huang Mao Island in the Lake Dongting by Tang Yin (1470-1523), Gnarled Pine in the Misty Rain by Shitao (1641-1707), Landscape by Gong Xian (1618-1689) and View of Jingu Yuan Garden by Hua Yan (1682-1756).

Gu Wenbin (1811-1889), a Suzhou scholar and collector of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), assembled a rich collection of Chinese paintings and calligraphy. The collection grew in the hands of his descendants, four generations of the Gu family - and the Guoyun Lou Collection was eventually donated to the Shanghai Museum in the mid-20th century.

Works by the four generations of the Gu family, from Gu Wenbin to Gu Zeyang, will also be on display, showing the family's dual roles as artists and connoisseurs.

Speaking at today's (March 20) opening ceremony of the exhibition, the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Ms Anissa Wong Sean-yee, said the exhibition, co-presented by the department and the Shanghai Museum, gave Hong Kong people the chance to appreciate the collection and also to deepen their understanding of Chinese art.

Despite hardship from the wars after the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911, the Gu family made great efforts to preserve the cultural treasures. In 1951 and 1959, the family donated the works to the Shanghai Museum, fulfilling the wish of Gu Zegang, a fourth-generation descendant from Gu Wenbin. Ms Wong expressed her gratitude to the family in recognition of their gift.

Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, is famous for its collections of literati painting. Gu Wenbin established the house, Guoyun Lou, in Suzhou to preserve his collection of paintings and calligraphy. The name Guoyun, meaning passing clouds, is drawn from the statement by the Song dynasty poet Su Shi (1037-1101) that "paintings and calligraphy are but passing smoke and clouds". Gu Wenbin also built a garden behind the house and named it Yi Yuan. After the completion of the house and garden, he retired from his post as Governor of Ningshao, Zhejiang and returned home to spend his time studying his collection.

Gu Wenbin selected 250 items from his collection and included them in his 10-volume publication, Record of the Guoyun Lou Collection of Paintings and Calligraphy. His son, Tinglie, also helped compile the publication. Tinglie, however, died before the book was published.

Gu Linshi, Tinglie's son, was a master of calligraphy and painting. He was skilled at painting landscapes and modelling his works on styles of calligraphy and painting dating back to the Song (960-1279) and Yuen (1271-1368) dynasties. He also compiled the six-volume Continuation of Guoyun Lou Collection of Paintings and Calligraphy.

Gu Zeyang, the son of Linshi, upheld the family tradition. During the War of Resistance against Japan, he and his wife, Shen Tongyue, had to flee and hide but they took the collection and did their best to maintain it despite great hardship.

Having transported the works to Shanghai, Gu Zeyang temporarily placed some of them in the Shanghai residence of Qu Qijia, a collector from Changshu. In 1948, he deposited the whole collection in the Bank of China. The family was so committed to preserving the collection that they led a frugal life rather than sell any item from the collection.

In fulfilment of Gu Zeyang's wish after his death, Madam Shen Tongyue, and their children Gu Duxuan, Gu Liu, Gu Fo, Gu Duzhang and Gu Duqiu, donated over 300 artworks and more than 10 rare and valuable books and manuscripts of the late Ming era to the Shanghai Museum.

In support of the exhibition, which will run until June 15, a fully illustrated catalogue published by the Shanghai Museum will be available for sale at the Museum of Art's giftshop. Audio-guide services will also be available in the gallery.

The Museum of Art is at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm daily and is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays). Admission is $10 and half-price concessions are applicable to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For enquiries call 2721 0116 or visit the Museum of Art's website at

End/Thursday, March 20, 2003

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