The first of its kind ever hosted by a Chinese mainland public museum and dedicated to the tradition of stone displays, this exhibition features the Shanghai Museum’s collection of scholars’ rocks presented by Ms. Hu Kemin, a renowned Chinese connoisseur and collector of scholars’ rocks in the US.
Collecting and appreciating natural stones is a long tradition in China. Scholars’ rocks in particular, the stones displayed as part of the accoutrements in a learned man’s study, have been the indulgence of generations of the literati. Ms. Hu, a celebrated collector of scholars’ rocks in the US, has followed in her father’s footprints, devoting many years to the collection, study, and promotion of classic scholars’ rocks. She has contributed substantially to promoting the culture of scholars’ rocks in the West. In 2018, she generously presented her handpicked collection to the Museum, in support of our research on and display of the artistic practices of Chinese literati. Her gift of scholars’ rocks is mainly handed down from centuries earlier, which are made of classic materials—including Lingbi Stone, Taihu Stone, Kun Stone, and Ying Stone; stones of specific locality; and other stone-like materials such as porcelain, copper, jade, and wood. On some of the rocks are inscriptions by former collectors, and many are paired with original wood stands, which are valuable references for research and appreciation.
The exhibition features 78 stone and stone-like pieces from Ms. Hu. They are displayed in three sections: Pursuit of Archaic Rocks, Identification and Appreciation of Scholars’ Rocks, and Fascinating Stone-like Adornments. To complement these donations, the Museum also selects from its own collection Isle Fanghu in Miniature from the Song Pit crafted by Gao Fenghan, A Scroll Painting of Isle Fanghu in Miniature painted by Wu Hufan, and other famous ancient literati paintings of stones by Chen Hongshou and Lan Ying from the Ming Dynasty and by Yun Shouping and Gao Fenghan from the Qing Dynasty. We wish you a fulfilling viewing experience.