Heaven & Earth in CHINESE ART

Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei

A book published to accompany the exhibition of the same name by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia (Feb. 2 ~ May 5, 2019)

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The National Palace Museum in Taipei has often been praised as one of the greatest museums in the world. It is a must-visit tourist attractions in Taiwan’s capital and an excellent place to learn about the art history of China.

The National Palace Museum in Taipei

If you have been to the museum and want to marvel at some of the best treasures in the collection again; or if you would like to travel to the museum, but cannot make it; or if you are simply interested in Chinese art and would like to have a coffee table book with excellent photographs and introductions to many outstanding artworks in the museum’s collection, “Heaven & Earth in Chinese Art” is your perfect book choice.

The book was published to accompany a recent exhibition by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and can now be purchased in online bookstores. Over the years, the National Palace Museum has organized art exhibitions abroad on multiple occasions and this was the first time that treasures from the collection were shown to art lovers in Sydney.

On 230 pages the book introduces you to all works that were on display in Australia, 87 in total, including paintings, calligraphy, bronzes, jade and wood carving, and ceramics.

The three main topics of the exhibition were Heaven, Nature, and Humanity, and artworks were selected that presented the many ways artists have, throughout the dynasties, depicted relationship of humans with Heaven and Earth.

Portrait of the Hongzhi Emperor (detail) (Ming Dynasty)
From the Neolithic period through the Qing Dynasty

Let’s have a look at some of the fine artwork presented in the book.

Among the most splendid works are the jade carvings.

Fish-dragon flower holder (Qing Dynasty)
An arhat under a tree (Qing Dynasty)

Many of the artworks show impressive craftsmanship and have playful elements, such as moving parts.

Vase with landscape and floral designs and two handles on a revolving neck (Qing Dynasty)

In traditional Chinese paintings humans are often depicted as small figures in large landscapes. The book shows some paintings with enlarged details to give you a closer look.

Maple forest in fine weather after Lu Guang (detail on right page)

“How did they do that?” is a common question asked by visitors to the National Palace Museum. A boat carved out of an olive pit, “how did they do that?”

Olive pit in the form of a boat (Qing Dynasty)

The book also has several fold-out pages to give you a good look at over-sized paintings like the “Along the river during the Qingming Festival” painting, a work similar to the more famous Qing academy scroll by the same name.

Along the river during the Qingming Festival (Qing Dynasty)

The two most famous pieces of art in the museum’s collection are the “Jadeite Cabbage” and the “Meat-shaped stone;” the latter was part of the Sydney exhibition and is shown in the book.

Meat-shaped stone (Qing Dynasty)

Another painting with an enlarged part for a more detailed view.

Hermit-fisherman of Flower Stream (detail on right page) (Yuan Dynasty)

Blue and white porcelain vases had certainly a place in the exhibition.

Phoenix-tail vase with figures and landscapes (Qing Dynasty)

A zun is a wine vessel or a vase, often in the shape of an animal, in this case an elephant.

Zun in the form of an elephant (Qing Dynasty)

Another long scroll, depicting mountains.

Cloudy mountain and self-inscribed colophon (Northern Song Dynasty)

Detailed descriptions of each artwork can be found in the back of the book.

Detailed descriptions of the artworks
Portrait of the Hongzhi Emperor (detail) (Ming Dynasty)

Images are taken from Heaven & Earth in Chinese Art, published by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in April 2019, and distributed internationally by Thames & Hudson Ltd in the UK.
The book is available from local bookstore Eslite and Artland.

National Palace Museum
Add: No. 221, Sec. 2, Zhishan Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City
Tel: (02) 2881-2021
Website: www.npm.gov.tw