Annual Ford Lecture: How to Read Chinese Paintings

The Chinese way of appreciating a painting is often expressed by the words du hua, “to read a painting.” In this lecture, Maxwell K. Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will visually analyze select paintings and calligraphies from the encyclopedic collection of the Met, revealing what makes each significant. Spanning a thousand years of Chinese art from the 8th through the 17th century, the lecture will examine multiple layers of meaning—style, technique, symbolism, past traditions, and the artist’s personal circumstances—in the treatment of landscapes, flowers, birds, figures, religious subjects, and calligraphies, in order to illuminate the main goal of every Chinese artist: to capture not only the outer appearance of a subject but also its inner essence.

This lecture is generously sponsored by John and Berthe Ford.

This program was recorded November 7, 2021 at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD.

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