The Fuchun Painting
—–Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains—-
by Shengjie Huang and edited by H. J. West
Preface: 660 years ago a painting was created that that was admired in its own time has survived several centuries, conflict, and foibles, and is admired and valued yet in modern times. The painting’s survival is a miracle in its own rite as well as its beauty carried into this century. This painting could even serve to foster friendship between countries.
There was a famous painter in China during the Yuan Dynasty, called Huang Gongwang. He lived in the Zhejiang Province near the Fuchun River. The landscape there is marvelous. He liked to travel there and sightsee, and he enjoyed it very much. He was intelligent but liked both, drinking and painting. In 1347 Huang, 78 returned to his home town near the Fuchun River. He and his friend, Wu Yong traveled along the river and marveled over the beautiful sights again and Wu Yong suggested to him to paint it. Finally, Huang began the task, but he did not paint continuously; he only painted when his inspiration came to him. He continued to travel until 3-4 years had passed, but the painting was still not complete. He carried it in his luggage and painted when he was free. Finally, he finished the painting when he reached his eighty second birthdays. His friend Wu Yong wanted this painting and asked Huang to write some words which showed this painting was only for him, but Huang instead wrote; “The painting took 3-4 years, I hope those who know its worth will keep it safe.”
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After the painting was given to his friend Wu Yong Huang died four years later. Then after 100 years had passed, Huang’s friend Wu Yong also died, but the painting was still kept safe.
A famous painter, Shen Zhou in the Ming dynasty, acquired it at the age of 62, and was so captivated by the marvelous painting that he admired it lovingly for a long time enjoyed the painting over and over again, always sighing and wishing he could express himself similarly. He also wrote his inscriptions on the painting.
One day, Shen Zhou thought, “Why not ask my friend to share the painting and make an inscription on the painting also?” However, the painting was sold by his friend’s son when Shen Zhou had brought the painting to his friend home. Shen Zhou was upset as if he had lost his soul. He anguished over having made a wrong decision.
Nevertheless, one day and by providence, Shen Zhou found the painting as it was shown in an antique store. He could not believe it; but there it was! He went back home and collected all his money and tried to buy it back. However, it was too expansive, and he could not buy it, and as fate would have it, a rich man bought it and yet again, another 100 years passed.
During this time the painting had changed hands from Tang Zhiyi, Zhou Taimu, and An Saofang; and finally it was obtained by the grand painting master Dong Qichang, who was at the time 39 years old and lived in the last period of the Ming Dynasty. He saw the painting and sighed, “He is my teacher, he is my master that creates on canvas beautiful hills, and mountains.”
Up to this time, the painting had been seen and owned by many, including famous painters. It had been praised and respected by all of them. Therefore, many people knew the painting was valuable, although they did not understand it’s full worth.
Dong Qichang sold the painting to Wu Ziju who was a collector when Dong was at an old age. Wu Ziju’s third son liked collecting very much, and Wu Ziju gave the painting to his third son just before his death. The son so admired the painting that he kept it with him even while he was drinking, eating and sleeping.
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Then he decided to house the painting in a dedicated building for the painting. The building was setup near a pool in case of fire. Besides the painting the building also housed many famous books, other paintings, jewelry and bronzes but, the painting was the greatest object located in its center, the masterpiece! The building became Qichang’s paradise.
Unfortunately, the Ming Dynasty drew to an end, and the Qing Dynasty began, that spawned fighting that spread all over China; Wu’s son with his family fled from their home. He left all his valuable things, but determinedly carried only the painting with him.
As he was dying from old age, he made a decision that surprised all of his family members. He wanted to burn the painting and have it buried with him. While dying, he asked his nephew to bring the painting and have it burned. While the painting was burning Wu was smiling. However, unknown to him his nephew had used another painting to burn instead, but had saved the real one.
Although the painting was saved, it was also divided into two. One part is 51.4 cm X 31.8 cm (h) or part “A,” the other is 636.9 cm X 33 cm (h), or part “B.” As mentioned above, 660 years ago, the painting was born, but it was divided into two parts 360 years ago, but the painting’s story is still not complete.
Time passed yet again.
After a while the “B” part of the painting passed into the hands of the Qing Dynasty Palace for yet another 187 years. The Qing Dynasty had ended in 1911 and, In Oct. 10 1911 Doctor Sun Yat-sen and his revolutionaries had made an uprising in Wuhan and the Qing’s Emperor was repealed, and the country became a republic.
Then the Qing’s palace became “The National Palace Museum,” and all the Emperor’s precious collections became government owned and kept there until Japanese invaded China in 1933.
All of the collections of the National Palace Museum, including the painting, were evacuated to the western part of China. The evacuation was hard and difficult. Thousands of wood cases that held thousands of treasures were moved from one place to another to avoid the Japanese air bombing. They finally stayed in the countryside of Sichuan/Guizhou provinces, hiding in mountain caves.
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After the Japanese surrendered, all of the collections were transported back to Naming City ( the capital of the GMT government).
While the communist Party was trying to take power, the GMT government decided to send all the collection of National Palace Museum to Taiwan in 1948.
However, and reverting to what happened to the “A” part of the painting, had been bought by the grand collector Wang Yanking in 1669, during the beginning of Qing Dynasty mentioned above.
This part of the painting had passed through the hands of many collectors time after time, but no one knew that it was the part of a famous painting until 1938. By this time another 250 years had passed.
Nevertheless, one day in the fall of 1938, and in Shanghai, a proprietor of an antique store went to see a famous collector, Wu Hufan. He was severely ill and lay in bed. The proprietor took the “A” part of the painting and showed it to Wu Hufan. Wu fawned over the painting, over and over again and he was certain this was the remainder of the most famous painting by Huang. He was elated and said, “It’s a miracle! Marvelous! , I have never thought I could ever see this painting after having been lost for over 300 years.”
After hearing what Wu’s saying, the proprietor knew this was a valuable painting and did not want to sell it to Wu. Because Wu wanted it very much, he used a bonze he owned that was made in 1040-770 BC, to exchange for the painting. Then a strange thing happened, Wu recovered after acquiring the painting in the short time of one month.
After the communist party took power, a famous calligrapher Sha Monhai who worked for the Museum of Zhejiang Province knew that Wu Hufan had collected the painting, and hounded him to donate it to Museum of Zhejiang Province for safety. Sha went to Shanghai and pleaded with Wu over and over again. He also asked his friends who were museum experts to also plead with Wu.
Finally, with such pressure Wu donated the part “A” of the painting, to the Museum of Zhejiang Province. Finally the painting became the greatest treasure of the Museum of Zhejiang Province.
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In March of 2010, the People’s Congress was held in Beijing, where Premier Wen said: “A famous Chinese Painting in Yuan Dynasty, “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” was separated into two parts. One is kept in Taiwan; the other in The Museum of Zhejiang Province. I hope the two parts can get together some day.”
Later, both authorities of mainland China and Taiwan came to an agreement that the two parts of the paintings will come together in Taipei Palace Museum for exhibition.
In June of 2011, the remainder of the painting, part “A”, or the 51.4 cm X 31.8cm section from the Museum of Zhejiang Province, was brought to Taiwan to join with the other part of the painting and the whole paining to be exhibited in “Taipei Palace Museum.” The paintings are shown in the pictures below:
This part A collects in Mainland China
Those part B collect in Taiwan