A Western View of Kangxi’s Travel to the South: Fragmentary Scroll Six of his Inspection Tour Series and its Associations

A Western View of Kangxi’s Travel to the South: Fragmentary Scroll Six of his Inspection Tour Series and its Associations

Collecting the Kangxi Southern Tour Scrolls in the West

A fragment of the Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour Scroll VI appeared at auction in New York on November 30, 1988, at the morning sale of Fine Chinese Paintings at Christie’s auction house.[i] Its appearance was partly overshadowed by the day’s afternoon offering at Sotheby’s New York, which included a complete scroll from the Southern Inspection Tour series of Kangxi’s grandson, the Qianlong Emperor. [ii] Phoenix art collectors Marilyn and Roy Papp acquired the Kangxi scroll, which is considered with the rest of the series to be primarily the work of Wang Hui 王翬 (1632-1717). It was the final section of Scroll VI, about fifteen feet long, representing travel from the town of Bennui to the prefectural city of Changzhou on the Grand Canal. After it was re-mounted in Hong Kong, the scroll became a centerpiece of the first travelling exhibition from the Papp collection, entitled Heritage of the Brush, which was shown in nine museums across the United States.[iii] The section of Kangxi Scroll VI was shown in three more exhibitions, including one in Paris.[iv]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York purchased the afternoon’s offering, The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour Scroll VI, at the Sotheby’s auction, and added it to their holdings which already included Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour Scroll III (fig. 1) purchased in 1979 and Qianlong Southern Inspection Tour Scroll IV purchased in 1984.[v] Qianlong Scroll IV was lent in 1985 to an exhibition organized by the Phoenix Art Museum entitled The Elegant Brush: Chinese Painting Under the Qianlong Emperor, 1735-1795.[vi] Up to that time, the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls and Qing court painting in general had received little scholarly attention among art historians in North America.[vii] To explore these and other related topics further, the Phoenix Art Museum and Arizona State University held a symposium, on October 3-5, 1985. At that symposium Maxwell K. Hearn presented a paper on the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls of the Kangxi and Qianlong emperors.[viii] He later wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Tour scrolls.[ix]

Section of Wang Hui 王翬 (1632-1717) and assistants, The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll III: Jinan to Mount Tai, datable to 1698, handscroll; ink and color on silk, 67.9 x 1393.8 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979, accession number 1979.5a-d

In 2008, Hearn published “Art Creates History: Wang Hui and The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour,” which provided an in-depth study of the topic. In it, Dr. Hearn suggested that Wang Hui’s development of the series gave birth to a Qing court painting style. The essay appeared in the exhibition catalog Hearn co-authored with Wen C. Fong and Chin-Sung Chang, Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632-1717).[x] This exhibition and study of Wang Hui’s work was a major attempt to integrate the work of Wang Hui as a scholar-artist with his work as supervisor of the Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour project.

In 1988, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted artist David Hockney in creating, with Philip Haas, the film entitled A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China, or, Surface Is Illusion But So Is Depth. Hockney was thus involved in the scholarship on the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls taking place in North America in the 1980s. He used Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour Scroll VII, a scroll that Canadian collectors Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart purchased in 1984.[xi] Hockney recognized the quality and importance of the scrolls. In the film, he analyzed the organization of space and the depiction of recession beyond the picture plane. [xii] The subtitle of the film, “Surface Is Illusion But So Is Depth,” calls attention to a painter’s primary decision making. He refers to the choice that Qing court painters had to make in deciding whether to adopt and how to adapt Western perspective and foreshortening techniques and whether to preserve traditional Chinese approaches to rendering figures and architecture in space.

An important aspect of the film is Hockney’s performance of unrolling the large handscroll (fig. 2). This shows the way to get the most out of looking closely at a painting. Most of the time, we see handscrolls stretched out in display cases, but the natural way to view a handscroll, and the way the artist planned for, was to unroll the scroll with comfortably outstretched arms.

Throughout the film, Hockney’s use of closeup views provides the intense experience of seeing the scroll section by section and detail by detail.

His narration urges the viewer to look closely and understand the poses and actions of figures as well as their potential movement through the city streets and country paths depicted in the scroll.

Image from film by David Hockney and Philip Haas, A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China, or, Surface Is Illusion But So Is Depth, Milestone Film & Video, publisher, Harrington Park, New Jersey, 1988. Image courtesy of Philip Haas and David Hockney

In collaboration with consulting scholars, personnel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a website “Recording the Grandeur of the Qing,”[xiii] with the Southern Inspection Tours and their related documentary scrolls as a major focus. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Southern tour scrolls, Kangxi scroll III and Qianlong scrolls IV and VI, are featured, as is Kangxi scroll VII in the Mactaggart collection (fig. 3). Information on the Qing state, Qing economy and the Qing emperors, complements the presentation of the scrolls. Close-up photography allows users of the site to see the individual figures, the city streets and the shops and their contents. Details of the architecture of buildings are clear as well.

Detail of Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll seven: Wuxi to Suzhou, 1698, Wang Hui, 1632-1717, ink and colour on silk, Mactaggart Art Collection (2004.19.75.1), University of Alberta Museums, Gift of Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart

Boxes for the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls have been collected with the scrolls for which they were intended and also separately.[xiv] The box (fig. 4) for the Mactaggart collection’s Kangxi Scroll VII is retained in that collection.[xv] Recent scholarship has shown that the Kangxi boxes were commissioned by the Qianlong emperor.[xvi] These are fabricated in a style of lacquer work that was current in Kangxi’s time. They are made in black lacquer over wood, incised and filled with gold, in the manner called qiangjin 戧金(engraved gold).

Box for The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour Scroll VII: Wuxi to Suzhou, 1698, artist unknown, black lacquer over wood incised and filled with gold, 17.5 cm x 78.7 cm x 19.9 cm, University of Alberta Museums, Mactaggart Art Collection, 2004.19.75.2. Gift of Sandy and Cécile Mactaggat Felix Plawski

Two of the Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour scrolls entered the French national collection and they are now in the holdings of the Musée Guimet (Musée national des Arts asiatiques-Guimet. The Guimet scrolls were part of a major international exhibition organized by the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Guimet, held in Hong Kong in 1997.[xvii] Scroll II includes a very touching scene (fig. 5): Kangxi riding on horseback with his honor guard being approached on foot by a small crowd of the populace bringing offerings.[xviii] Scroll IV offers an industrious scene: the repair of a critical dike (fig. 6) on the bank of the Yellow River.[xix] Nearby, a viewing pavilion is prepared so that the emperor can observe the work. This scene emphasizes one of the major themes of the inspection tours – to inspect the systems for controlling the waterways, preventing floods and ensuring smooth transportation. The dramatic roiling waves behind the working crew call attention to the importance of the imperial inspection.[xx]

Wang Hui (1632-1717) and assistants, Detail of The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour Scroll II, Southern Habei to Northern Shandong, datable to 1698, handscroll, ink and color on silk, 68.7 x 1334 cm, Museé Guimet, accession number MG21448, Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (MNAAG, Paris)/Thierry Olivier
Wang Hui(1632-1717) and assistants, Detail of The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour Scroll IV, Honghuapu to Qian via Pizhou, datable to 1698, handscroll, ink and color on silk, 68.2 1562 cm, Museé Guimet, accession number MA 2460, Photo ©RMN-Grand Palais (MNAAG, Paris)/Michel Urtado

Works in Western Collections by Artists Who Worked on the Southern Tour Scrolls

The artists who participated in the production of the Southern Tour paintings are represented among paintings that have reached Western collectors and museums. Wang Hui, who was recruited to supervise the project, most probably laid out the compositions and painted some areas of its landscapes.[xxi] He is, of course, the best represented in Western collections, but works by other less known artists who assisted in the project can be identified as well.

Wang Yun (1652-1737 or later), Clearing Clouds in Autumn Mountains after Yang Wengui, dated 1688, 63.0 x 34.8 cm. Judith Stoikov Collection, Image courtesy of Kaikodo

Among the assistants, one was a noted specialist in architectural scenes. Wang Yun 王雲 (1652-1737 or later) was known as a “boundary painter,” one who specialized in jiehua, “measured paintings” using ruled lines.[xxii] In 1688, probably soon after he arrived in Beijing from his native city of Yangzhou, Wang Yun[xxiii] painted a landscape (fig. 7) which he said was inspired by the work of the artist Yan Wengui 燕文貴 (ca. 967-1044, the early Northern Song period). Like other artists of the early Northern Song, Yan painted towering mountains with rugged cliffs shot through by waterfalls.[xxiv] Wang Yun’s hanging scroll presents his version of that mountainscape, but his composition moves the mountain to one side and offers a close view of a scholar’s retreat in the foreground. This architectural element must have delighted his patrons in Beijing who were likely officials surrounding Kangxi’s court, art collectors who could well imagine taking a respite from the court in such a location.

Wang Yun was recommended to the court by Song Lao 宋犖 (1634-1713).[xxv] Song was also a patron of Wang Hui; both had close connects with high officials. When Wang Hui arrived in Beijing in 1691 with some of his followers to accept the court commission to produce the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls for Kangxi, Wang Yun joined that circle of artists. Wang Yun’s work in Wang Hui’s literati mode appears in two leaves in a collaborative album with Wang Hui, dated 1692.[xxvi] For that album, Landscapes After Old Masters, Wang Hui created three paintings, Yang Jin 楊晉 made six (see fig. 8), Xu Mei 徐玫 painted one (fig. 9), and Gu Fang 顧昉 contributed four.

Yang Jin (164401726), Fishing Cottage Under a Clear Autumn Sky after Zhao Mengfu, leaf E from Landscapes After Old Masters, an album of 16 leaves, dated 1692, each leaf 27.9 x 30.8 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Marie-Hélèle and Guy A, Weill, 2000, accession number 2000.665.2a-p.
Xu Mei (active ca. 1690-1722), Water Village after Zhao Lingran, leaf B from Landscapes after Old Masters, an album of 16 leaves, dated 1692, ink and color on paper, each leaf: 27.9 x 30.8 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Marie-Hélèle and Guy A, Weill, 2000, accession number 2000.665.2a-p.

Xu Mei’s inscription on his leaf (fig. 9) cites Zhao Lingrang 趙令穰 (active late 11th – early 12th century) who was active in the late Northern Song. The low-lying river scene, with small spare trees, and light washes of color, reflect Xu’s rendering of that tradition. As scholars have pointed out, this style was likely a useful element in developing the Southern Inspection Tour scrolls.

Several leaves in the collaborative album cite Yuan artists as models, including the early Yuan artist Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322) and his wife Guan Daosheng 管道昇 (1262-1319), and the late Yuan artists Ni Zan 倪瓚 (1301-1374) and Wang Meng 王蒙 (ca. 1308-1385). In an inscription on a leaf by Gu Fang, Wang Hui commends the young artist saying “his works rival those of the Yuan masters.”[xxvii] Gu Fang was developing skill in the orthodox manner of using the work of a past master to inform an original creation,[xxviii] and in that same year, 1692, he produced a pair of landscapes (fig. 10) in the style of the Yuan dynasty artist Huang Gongwang 黃公望 (1269-1354). Most distinctive of that style are the long, undulating texture strokes of the Huang Gongwang style, here on silk rather than the more usual paper ground. This manner may also have been a basis for the style developed in Kangxi’s Southern Inspection Tour scrolls.

Gu Fang (active ca. 1690-1720), Pair of Landscapes, dated 1692, hanging scrolls, ink and color on silk, scroll A: 94 x 33.6 cm; scroll B: 94 x 33.3 cm, Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Marilyn and Roy Papp, accession number 2005.125.A-B

Wang Yun stayed on at court after the Southern Inspection Tour project was finished. His painting of Fanghu (fig. 11), the jar-shaped mountain of the immortals that rises miraculously out of the Eastern Sea, is dated 1699, and said by Wang Yun in his inscription to have been painted after a Song dynasty version of the subject.[xxix] Perhaps he painted it for a scholar-official in Beijing. His use of the blue-and-green manner seems similar to that found in the Southern Tour scrolls, even though this subject is imaginary rather than documentary. Although he may have stayed at court until about 1704-5, he refused Kangxi’s offer of promotion,[xxx] and after serving seventeen years at court he returned home to Yangzhou.

left: Wang Yun, Chinese (1652-1734), The Fanghu Isle of the Immortals, 1699, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, 55 ⅞ x 23 ¾ inches (141.9 x 60.3 cm). The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City Missouri, Purchase: acquired through the Fortieth Anniversity Fund, F75043 Image courtesy of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Media Services. right: Wang Hui (1532-1717) Landscape in the Maner of Zhao Lingrang, dated 1713, hanging scroll, ink and color on paper, 142 x 39 cm. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, gift of Marilyn and Roy Papp, Photo by Ken Howie, Accession number 2005.135.

At the same time that the Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour series was becoming better known in North America, Wang Hui’s own paintings, long collected in the West,[xxxi] came to be seen in a new light. The sharp division between his work in the so-called “orthodox” style and his work at the palace was softened. The one style was generally looser in brushwork and more personally expressive, and the other style was more meticulous and descriptive. Sometimes, however, the two manners could blend. This often happened in works in which Wang Hui cited sources of inspiration in works by Song dynasty or Yuan dynasty artists. For example, Wang Hui’s Landscape in the Manner of Zhao Lingrang (fig. 12), purchased by Marilyn and Roy Papp and now in the Phoenix Art Museum,[xxxii] follows Zhao Lingrang 趙令穰, the late Northern Song artist mentioned above. Zhao Lingrang was active in a movement to bring blue and green color back into painting. Colorful landscapes had developed during the Tang dynasty, with the blue-and-green palette suggesting the lush foliage and hillsides of flourishing spring or summer. (Red and yellow were used for autumn leaves, and white for snow scenes of winter.) By Zhao’s time the revival of color – especially blue and green mineral pigments – was used to give an “archaic” flavor or a reference to a distant paradise.

Wang Hui and the artists who worked on the Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour scrolls during the years 1691 to 1698, had already worked the blue-and-green palette into their compositions.[xxxiii] This was done in a subtle way so that the contemporary time and place of Kangxi’s travel was not obscured. The touches of color served to emphasize the prosperity of the realm under Kangxi’s benevolent rule.

Scroll VI Now Brought Together in Hong Kong

With the seven fragments of Scroll VI now reunited in the current exhibition at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, we can see this essential segment of the journey from Zhenjiang to Changzhou. Wang Hui and his assistants knew this particular region well. Their birthplaces were near here, and they would have travelled this route themselves on their way to Beijing. Zhenjiang, with its three landmark mountains Jiaoshan, Jinshan and Beigushan, is the point at which the Grand Canal connects with the Yangzi River, and thus it came to be a gateway to Jiangnan, China’s cultural heartland.[xxxiv]

Part 1,[xxxv] the second longest fragment of the scroll, opens with Jiaoshan and a host of boats proceeding toward Jinshan. The Kangxi emperor stands on a terrace on the left side of Jinshan. On the opposite side of Jinshan a rock, reminiscent of Fanghu mountain, rises out of the water. All around the islands are countless boats full of well-wishers.

Part 2 shows Beigu shan, the third of the three Zhenjiang mountains, and from here the movement shifts to pathways on land. The section then brings into view a large jutting landform of a rough peninsula with blue and green mineral pigments enhancing its edges. The mountain forms suggest the revived Northern Song style of portraying mountains, such as that associated with Yan Wengui seen in the Wang Yun painting discussed above. This manner was joined with the use of the blue-and-green revival style.

Part 3 is a section with scenes of shops. A shop selling hats features red hats like those many figures are wearing. More shops show off abundant stockpiles. One shows baskets brimming with rice. Neighboring stores have stocks of jute and ceramic wares.

Part 4 focuses on a landscape, subtly colored green washes, with Zhenjiang Prefecture’s Bamboo Grove Temple in the distance.[xxxvi] Farther along, people are shown going to work in the fields and driving livestock up a steep hill.

Part 5 shows a procession of figures carrying precious items including a large gilt-bronze incense burner. There are gold highlights applied in a decorative manner throughout the scroll, but here the gold is representative of the splendid character of the metal censer. Another section of Part 5 depicts travelers passing each other on an uphill road with rice fields beyond.

Part 6 features a large temple, surrounded by water, identified as the Sanyi Pavilion 三義閣.[xxxvii] The view then shifts to fields with workers tending animals gleaning the fields.

Part 7, the longest section of the reunited scroll, shows domestic scenes with people peering out of windows and doorways. Especially appealing are the women and children looking out from their domestic interiors catching glimpses of the activity before the emperor’s arrival. Farther along we see the town of Bennui Zhen. Moving more to the left, there appears a procession of people with banners bringing first a large bronze qilin, the mythical animal said to appear at the arrival of an illustrious ruler, and then four open litters carrying the Eight Immortals, associated with myth, especially Daoist belief, and good fortune. These are probably actors dressed up to play the roles of the immortals, perhaps based on images in the local temple. If it were not for one figure pulling on his fake beard, one might think these were the temple statues themselves. This last segment of the scroll ends at the Changzhou prefectural city gate. Livestock graze on the abundant grasses outside the gate lending a relaxed counterpoint to the anticipation of the Kangxi emperor’s visit.

These seven sections, now reunited after decades of separation, fill a gap in the study of the Kangxi emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour series.[xxxviii] Scroll VI, from Jinshan to Changzhou, can now be seen intact. This expanse now anticipates the scene for Scroll VII, the route from Wuxi to Suzhou and Tiger Hill.

[i] Christie’s New York, Fine Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, sale of 30 November 1988, lot 89. At the time, the author was curator of Asian art at the Phoenix Art Museum where the scroll was placed on loan.

[ii] Sotheby’s New York, Fine Chinese Paintings, sale of 30 November 1988, lot 71. The Qianlong series is by Xu Yang 徐揚 (active at court ca. 1751-76), and dates to 1770.

[iii] Ju-hsi Chou and Claudia Brown, Heritage of the Brush: The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Painting (Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Art Museum, 1989, exhibition catalog). The fragment of Scroll VI is on pp. 68-69, cat. no. 18.

[iv] Musée Cernuschi, Le Parfum de l’encre: Peintures chinoises de la collection Roy et Marilyn Papp (Paris: Paris musées, 1999, exhibition catalog), 74-75, cat. no. 19.

[v] Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour Scroll III: Ji’nan to Mount Tai, was purchased from Tingchen Zhang, Hong Kong, in 1979. Qianlong Southern Inspection Tour Scroll IV: The Confluence of the Huai and Yellow Rivers, dated 1770, was purchased from R. H. Ellsworth Ltd., New York, in 1984.

[vi] The exhibition was organized by Ju-hsi Chou and Claudia Brown. The catalog is The Elegant Brush: Chinese Painting Under the Qianlong Emperor, 1736-95 (Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Art Museum, 1985, exhibition catalog).

[vii] Up to that time, painting studies relating to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) by scholars in the United States had focused on the painters who remained loyal to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) during the early Qing and also the so-called “eccentric” painters of 18th century Yangzhou. The many other aspects of Qing dynasty painting had been neglected.

[viii] Maxwell K. Hearn, “Document and Portrait: The Southern Inspection Tour Paintings of Kangxi and Qianlong,” in Chinese Painting Under the Qianlong Emperor: The Symposium Papers in Two Volumes, edited by Ju-hsi Chou and Claudia Brown. Phoebus 6, no. 1 (1988): 91-131, 183-89.

[ix] Maxwell K. Hearn, The Kangxi Southern Inspection Tour: A Narrative Program by Wang Hui, 2 vols., PhD diss., Princeton University, 1990.

[x] Maxwell K. Hearn, “Art Creates History: Wang Hui and The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour,” in Wen C. Fong, Chin-Sung Chang, and Maxwell K. Hearn, Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632-1717) (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008, exhibition catalog), 129-83.

[xi] The scroll was purchased from Paul Moss; see Moss, Emperor, Scholar, Artisan, Monk: The Creative Personality in Chinese Works of Art (dealer’s catalog), London and Hong Kong, 1984, no. 18, pp. 74-81 (and bound foldout). The scroll has more recently been published in John E. Vollmer and Jacqueline Simcox, Emblems of Empire: Selections from the Mactaggart Art Collection (Edmonton: University of Alberta Museums, 2009), 176-85 and 277; along with Qianlong Southern Inspection Tour Scroll II, also in the Mactaggart collection, 190-95 and 278. This scroll was purchased from Sotheby’s New York, sale of 5 December 1984, lot 41.

[xii] For comparison, Hockney and Haas used Qianlong Southern Inspection Tour Scroll IV, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Hockney pointed out in the film that Xu Yang, the artist of the Qianlong series of scrolls used points of view and recession into space in ways he learned from Western perspective and foreshortening techniques.

[xiii] http://projects.mcah.columbia.edu/nanxuntu/html/scrolls/index.html

[xiv] A pair of carved red lacquer boxes designated as seven and eight of the The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour series appeared at auction at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 May 2012, lot 4012.

https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/an-important-pair-of-imperial-carved-cinnabar-5572117-details.aspx

[xv] Kangxi Scroll III in the Metropolitan Museum also has its box. See Fong et al., Landscapes Clear and Radiant, 134-35, pl. 48.

[xvi] Chen Haoxing, Jin xiang yu zhi: Qing dai gongting bao zhang yi shu (Qing Legacies: The Sumptuous Art of Imperial Packaging) (Macau: The Macao Museum of Art, 2000, exhibition catalog).

[xvii] Urban Council, Hong Kong Museum of Art, From Beijing to Versailles: Artistic Relations between China and France. Hong Kong: Urban Council of Hong Kong, 1997, exhibition catalog, 287-91, cat. nos. 112 and 113. Anne-Marie Amon (289) points out that the Kangxi emperor’s southern tours were known in France through correspondence from Jesuit missionaries there, and the “Emperor’s Journey” was included as a scene in the series of tapestries on the “History of the King of China” by the royal manufactory at Beauvais. The two Kangxi Southern Tour scrolls are fully illustrated in Marie-Catherine Rey, Les Très Riches Heures de la Cour de Chine (Paris: Musée des Arts Asiatiques Guimet, 2006), Scroll II: 48-53, cat. no. 3; Scroll IV: 66-71 and 104, cat.no. 10. The Guimet also has The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour Scroll X; see Les Très Riches Heures, 122-27, cat. no. 47.

[xviii] An inscription at the beginning of scroll II states that the emperor having exempted taxes, the people bowed as he passed, offered fruit and vegetables and burned incense to honor him. See From Beijing to Versailles, 287. Michael G. Chang (A Court on Horseback: Imperial Touring and the Construction of Qing Rule, 1680-1785 [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007], 1) quotes an observer of Kangxi’s 1699 Southern inspection tour who observed that people held up banners to show the emperor and his retinue their names and places of origin. There seems to be no evidence of that particular practice in this series of scrolls, although there is plenty of festive bunting and many altars with offerings to the emperor.

[xix] This is set at the confluence of the Huai and Yellow Rivers. The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour Scroll IV, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also depicts this site.

[xx] The inscription mounted at the start of the scroll reports that the emperor granted tax exemption to the people of the area, which had suffered flood damage (From Beijing to Versailles, 289). The box for Scroll IV, in black lacquer with gold patterns, is also held in the Guimet collection.

[xxi] It has been suggested that Wang Hui was inspired by the famous composition of Along the River during the Qingming Festival (Qingming shanghe tu 清明上河圖). Certainly Wang Hui would have been aware of the many copies of the Ming version by Qiu Ying 仇英 (1494?-1552) which were circulating in the Suzhou area. He was unlikely, however, to have seen the Song version by Zhang Zeduan 張擇端 (1085-1145) which is considered authentic today. Sun Chengze 孫承澤 (1592-1676) had seen Zhang's Qingming shanghe tu by 1660 according to his Gengzi xiaoxia ji 庚子消夏記 [Leisurely Spending the Summer in the Gengzi Year], but no connection is found between Sun and Wang Hui. The scroll is not recorded again until the Qianlong period. My thanks to Xiao Sheng 盛瀟, PhD Candidate at Arizona State University, for this information.

[xxii] On Wang Yun as a boundary painter, see Anita Chung, Drawing Boundaries: Architectural Images in Qing China (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2004), 57-58, 67, and 149.

[xxiii] On this painting and Wang Yun’s biography, see Howard Rogers in Kaikodo Journal 28 (Spring 2012), 68-69 and 192-93. Rogers estimates Wang Yun’s date of service at the Kangxi court as 1687 to 1704.

[xxiv] In an inscription on a painting dated 1713, Wang Hui mentioned having seen a painting by Yan Wengui during his years in Beijing. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/49157

[xxv] Chung, Drawing Boundaries, 58. Song Lao became governor of Jiangsu province in 1692, and in that role he welcomed the Kangxi emperor to the province on his Southern Tours of 1699, 1703 and 1705. For his biography, see Tu Lien-chê, “Sung Lao,” in Arthur W. Hummel, Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period (1644-1912) (Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1943), 689-90.

[xxvi] Maxwell K. Hearn, Cultivated Landscapes: Chinese Paintings from the Collection of Marie-Hélène and Guy Weill (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002), 81-107 and 174-79, cat. no. 6. Hearn suggests that Wang Hui used the occasion of collaborative albums like this to organize his followers and assistants into a working relationship.

[xxvii] Hearn, Cultivated Landscapes, 177.

[xxviii] On these paintings and Gu Fang’s biography, see Ju-hsi Chou, Journeys on Paper and Silk: The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Painting (Phoenix: Phoenix Art Museum, 1998, exhibition catalog), 93-95, cat. no. 33. The painting was purchased from Howard and Mary Ann Rogers, Kaikodo, in October 1995.

[xxix] K.S. (Kwan-shut) Wong, in Wai-kam Ho, Sherman E. Lee, Laurence Sickman and Marc F. Wilson, Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting: The Collections of the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 1980, exhibition catalog), 348-350, cat. no. 257.

[xxx] Wang Hui declined to stay on at court after the Southern Inspection Tour project was finished. He maintained ties with scholar officials and continued his successful painting career.

[xxxi] For an early study of Wang Hui’s work, see, for example, Roderick Whitfield, “Wang Hui and the Orthodox School,” in Whitfield, In Pursuit of Antiquity: Chinese Paintings of the Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse (Princeton: The Art Museum, 1969, exhibition catalog), 17-47.

[xxxii] Purchased at Sotheby’s New York, sale of June 3, 1986.

[xxxiii] Some passages in the paintings bring to mind a quote from art critic Xie Kun 謝堃 (Shuhua sojian lu 書畫所見錄, second half of the 19th century), saying that Wang Yun laid down “texture strokes in pale ink. He then added intense green color washes [to fill the surface area]. His jiehua looks bright and moist.” Translated and quoted by Anita Chung (Drawing Boundaries, 128).

[xxxiv] Jinshan appears in The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour V, published in Kokka, no. 274 (March 1913), 213-14, plates 7-8. British visitors became aware of these famous landmarks islands. In 1793, the Macartney Mission returned from its meeting at Rehe, travelling down the Grand Canal and into the waterway of the Yangzi River. William Alexander (1767-1816) recorded the scenery of Jinshan in a watercolor, which was later published in a volume that presented scenes of faraway China to a British audience. In the early 19th century, painters of the Zhenjiang school, including Zhang Yin 張吟 (1761-1829), painted the scenery. In 1837 the painter Wan Lan 萬嵐 (ca. 1790-1860) recorded the passage near Jinshan of Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu 林則徐 (1785-1850); see Sotheby’s New York, sale of 14 September 2016, The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings, lot 612.

[xxxv] Part 1 sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, sale of 8 April 2010, lot 1824. An article appeared in the catalog: Nie Chongzheng, “Viewing a Remnant of the Sixth Scroll of The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Tour.” See https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2010/fine-chinese-ceramics-works-of-art-hk0323/lot.1824.html

[xxxvi] Xiao Sheng 盛瀟 notes that Kangxi inscribed a plaque for this temple when he visited in 1699.

[xxxvii] Xiao Sheng 盛瀟 notes that the pavilion no longer exists.

[xxxviii] No preface has been discovered for scroll VI. The two Guimet scrolls have prefatory inscriptions mounted separately, previous to the painting. The same is true of Scroll III in the Met. The Mactaggart scroll has a preface inscribed on the silk of the painting itself at the beginning of the scroll. It will take more study to determine what was standard for the whole series.

Chinese Paintings – Classical Hong Kong Autumn Auctions

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