Detail, The Exalted Emperors and the Gods of the Five Directions Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 16th century Ink, colors, and gold on silk The Ruth Ann Dayton Chinese Room Endowment Fund 2004.131.3

The Infinite World: Chinese Figure Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (14th-19th centuries)

March 1, 2014 - March 22, 2015
Galleries 200, 201, 203
Free Exhibition

Drawn from the MIA’s impressive collection of Chinese paintings, this exhibition of 30 hanging scrolls, handscrolls, and album leaves explores the beauty and variety of the figure painting genre at a time of great artistic sophistication in China.

Some of these paintings reflect the principles of Zen and the importance of insight and revelation, while others illustrate the Daoist search for personal immortality or Confucian respect for elders and ancestors. Meanwhile, the genre of meiren hua—paintings of beautiful women—remained popular, portraying the insular world of women from elite society or the courtesan class.

This was the era of the “elegant gathering,” of salons that gathered like-minded men of letters to share their painting collections, and the salons themselves became artistic subject matter. By the 19th century, however, a new page had turned, as Chinese painters were increasingly drawn to Western-style painting.