Painting with Words: Gentleman Artists of the Ming Dynasty

April 16–July 24, 2016

Poetry, painting, and calligraphy: Known as the “Three Perfections,” these genres were regarded as the ultimate expressions of Chinese literati culture during the Ming dynasty (1369–1644). Members of the Wu School, centered on the affluent city of Suzhou and nearby towns, earned admiration for their interpretations of these art forms. Painting with Words celebrates Wu School works, examining the relationships among their imagery, brushstrokes, and, especially, words. Selections are drawn from the Freer|Sackler—home to one of the best Wu School collections in the country—as well as other museums and collections.

We are grateful for support of this exhibition from the Elizabeth Candida Ridout Endowment, the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation, and Susan and Michael Pillsbury.

Other generous supporters include Bruce and Yoke San Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. Shao F. and Cheryl L. Wang, Nancy and John Mannes, Ruth Kurzbauer in memory of her husband Dr. Marcus Jacobson, Cecilia Chin, Robert Stockho, Christine Freidel and Doug Varley, and Kathryn L. Stevens.

All translations by Stephen D. Allee.


A Cultural Center
Wen Zhengming
At Court & Beyond
The Gentleman in Retirement
In Full Flower
The Followers


Chinese Art


Press Release
Press Images PDF

"The show not only showcases the exquisite technique that has been maintained over centuries, it also explains how this art related to all aspects of Chinese life."
–Washington City Paper

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