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The School of Shanghai

Portrait of Wu Dacheng among his collection of antic bronzes by Ren Xun (1835-1893) (c) Shanghai Museum
  • Portrait of Wu Dacheng among his collection of antic bronzes by Ren Xun (1835-1893) (c) Shanghai Museum

The School of Shanghai

Paintings and calligraphy from the Shanghai Museum (1840-1920)

March 8th - June 30 2013

Pursuing the exploration of Chinese painting begun with the exhibitions Six Centuries of Chinese Painting in 2009 and Chinese Artists in Paris in 2011, the Musée Cernuschi, with the aid of remarkable loans from the Shanghai Museum, is throwing fresh light on a key period in the history of Chinese Art, during which Shanghai painters and calligraphers laid the foundations for a new modernity.

In the 19th century the Qing Dynasty was shaken by the Taiping Rebellion and military threats from the Western powers. Beginning in the 1840s the Jiangnan region of southern central China was the scene of armed conflicts which ravaged the cities of Nanjing (Nankin), Yangzhou and Hangzhou. The community of artists who had contributed to the remarkable prestige of these cities during the 18th century was dispersed, with many of the painters and calligraphers fleeing the conflicts and converging on the Shanghai region, where a new culture influenced by contacts with the West took shape. These upheavals gave rise not only to radical cultural change, but also to a thoroughgoing regeneration of the visual arts, characterised by a new freedom of line and the abrupt arrival of colour.

 The exhibition opens with the heritage of Jiangnan, showing how from one genre to another the painters assimilated the styles created in the region. It then looks in detail at the most significant personalities: those who, like Ren Xiong or Ren Bonian, triggered a break with the usual representation of the human figure by the introduction of realistic and cartoon-style images; and others who, like Xu Gu, abandoned the terrain of stylistic formulas inherited from the early Qing and turned towards fundamental simplification.

 The transposition of calligraphic models into the field of painting gave new status to the expressive power of line. Initiated by Zhao Zhiqian, this style found its culmination in the work of Wu Changshuo, and its evolution is probably most manifest in the "paintings of flowers and birds" genre: here the stem of a plant or the tail of a fish can take on a liveliness and energy whose effect is enhanced by vivid colours sometimes borrowed from the Western palette.

Useful informations

Musée Cernuschi
Musée des arts de l’Asie de la ville de Paris
7 Avenue Vélasquez - 75008 Paris
Tel. + 33 (0)1 53 96 21 50
Fax + 33 (0)1 53 96 21 96

Metro: Villiers, Monceau (line 2 or 3)
Bus : 30,84, 94

Open 10 am – 6 pm
Closed Mondays and public holidays

Full rate: 7 €
Concessions: 5 €(over-60s, teachers,jobseekers, family card holders)
Half price: 3.50 €(age 14-26 + Minimum Income Benefit recipients)
Free under 14

Guided tours
every Tuesday and Thursday at 2:30 pm
every Saturday at 3:00 pm
Duration : 90 minutes-no advance booking required
4.50€ (full rate), 3.80€ (concessions) + exhibition entry
Guided tours for lip readers: Saturday 30 March, 27 April, 25 May 29 June at 10:00 am

Introduction to the exhibition
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 12:30 pm and 1:00 pm
no advance booking required - free with exhibition entry

One o'clock Talks
- Calligraphy in Chinese Art
Tuesday 19 March, 9 and 30 April, 21 May, 11 June at 1:00 pm
- Artistic and Cultural Life in Shanghai
Tuesday 26 March, 16 April, 7 and 28 May, 18 June at 1:00 pm
- History of Shanghai
Tuesday 2 and 23 April, 14 May, 4 and 25 June at 1:00 pm

The Museum University
Thursdays, 4:00 pm, admission free subject to seating availability
21 and 28 March; 4 and 11 April, 23 May at 4:00 pm