Dong Qichang, one of the greatest calligraphers and painters in the late Ming Dynasty, integrated multifarious styles of his predecessors and used zen to illuminate his subject of painting. He put forward and advocated the theory of the “southern and northern schools of painting” and fully implemented it, which makes a milestone in the history of Chinese scholar painting and opens a new chapter for the creation of Chinese scholar painting. Many painting schools of later generations, such as the “four eminent monks in the early Qing Dynasty”, the “Four Wangs, Wu Li & Yun Shouping”, the “Jinling painting school”, the “Xin’an painting school’’, etc. were all formed under the radiation of his theory. The period of over 300 years from the late Ming Dynasty to the late Qing Dynasty witnesseda climax of the painter community’s creation activities owing to his influence. From the Yuan Dynasty onwards, only ZhaoMengfu and DongQichang could create a new style of their own and play an important role as a connecting link. Therefore, they have beenreputed as “two wise painters in the history of Chinese painting”.
In view of Dong Qichang’s great historical significance to the history of Chinese paintingand the fact that Dong is a Shanghai native and Shanghai Museum is the important institution for collecting and researching his great calligraphy and paintings, the first domestic exhibition called “The Ferryman of the Ink World: Dong Qichang’s Painting and Calligraphy Art” was held successfully from December, 2018 to March, 2019 in Shanghai Museum. Exhibited were mainly the collection of Dong’s works in the museum, together with some collections borrowed from 15 foreign or domestic important collection agencies, such as the Palace Museum in China and the institutions in America, Japan etc. The exhibition caused a sensation and attracted a large audience. It was referred to as “an art event not to be missed”.
To further promote the artistic achievements and influence of DongQichang, Shanxi Museum and Shanghai Museum cooperate again to launch the exhibition titled “The Epoch-making Model: Dong Qichang’s Painting and Calligraphy Art”, which is also one of the important festive activities of the 100thanniversary of Shanxi Museum. Based on the framework of “The Ferryman of the Ink World”, this exhibition selects more than 40 artworks of DongQichang and related artists. Itis composed of three parts, namely “DongQichang and His Era”, “The Artistic Achievement and Transcendence of DongQichang” and “The Artistic Influence of DongQichang and Identification of His Works”, which aims to present the unity of artistry, classicality and scholarship.