1998 / 10月
Marlene Chen /tr. by Jonathan Barnard
In 1996 treasures from the National Palace Museum went to America for exhibitions in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington. Now works from the collection are once again going overseas, for a show beginning October 20 at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris.
"Memoire d'Empire-Tresors du Musee national du Palais, Taipei" will exhibit 269 different works, including 106 paintings and calligraphies and 163 pieces from the museum's antiquities collection.
The Song-dynasty Portrait of Emperor Hui Zong, Hui Zong's own calligraphy Poem on Peonies, and the Tang Emperor Xuan Zong's Ode on Pied Wagtails, among others, offer looks at non-political sides of emperors. Shang- and Zhou-dynasty ceremonial bronzes, northern Song- dynasty Ru ware, southern Song Guan ware, and Ming and Qing Jingdezhen porcelains are sure to get people wistfully imagining life at court.
There are also many works by literati painters and calligraphers: from the Song dynasty Former Ode on the Red Cliff by Su Shi and Poem in Seven-Character Verse by Huang Tingjian, from the Yuan Nine Pearly Verdant Peaks by Huang Gongwang and View of Mountains from a Riverbank by Ni Can, from the Ming Looking at a Waterfall Under Pines by Wen Zhengming, and from the Qing Myriad Miles of the Yangtze River by Zhu Ta. The send-off exhibition featuring these works at the National Palace Museum itself drew big crowds here in Taipei.
The year before last the show "Splendors of Imperial China" was well received by the American academic and cultural communities, and afterwards many nations extended invitations to the National Palace Museum. The French government worked especially hard to meet the Musuem's needs, even passing a new law designating measures to protect foreign art works on exhibition there. Now, 63 years after part of the National Palace Museum collection first went to Europe for a show in London in 1935, works from the museum are going to Paris.
Chin Hsiao-yi, the museum director, explains that the museum adopted three principles to satisfy concerns art and antiquity lovers had raised after works went to America for the show there: (1) no works with a restricted-exhibition status at the musuem itself would go; (2) to prevent fragile paintings and antiquities from being excessively handled, few works that went to America should go to France (there are only 26 repeats); and (3) all of the musuem's selections for the show would have to pass a review board at the Ministry of Education (which rejected two Song paintings as being too fragile). Chin notes that for this show France is paying all exhibition costs, including the insurance coverage to a value of US$500 million.
With thorough measures taken for their protection, the paintings and antiquities will be on exhibition at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris from October 20 to January 25. In future histories of cultural exchange between East and West, this loan of works overseas will surely be described favorably.
This five-color bowl with immortals pattern from the Wan Li reign (1573-1629) of the Ming dynasty is one of the works from the National Palace going to France. (courtesy of the National Palace Museum)
At a press conference, National Palace Museum Director Chin Hsiao-yi introduces the site of the latest foreign exhibition of museum treasures: the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. (photo by Hsueh Chi-kuang)