Work and Commerce: Everyday Life in Chinese Painting

June 19, 2004 – January 17, 2005

Freer Gallery of Art
Jefferson Drive and 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC

Gallery 13 Floor Plan

Thirty-five paintings dating from the 12th to the 18th centuries give an unusual perspective on Chinese paintings by showing works picturing the daily activities of the common people. The centerpiece of the exhibition consists of two long handscrolls from the Yuan dynasty (14th century) depicting the process of rice cultivation and the production of silk; both primary occupations of Chinese farming communities. Other works of note include a 16th-century handscroll by Qiu Ying of a spring festival and paintings of knick-knack and toy peddlers. This exhibition also includes a broad selection of hanging scrolls, album leaves, and fans, as well as large sections of handscrolls showing weavers, herders, fishermen, workers in the transportation industry, and tradesmen. Label text discusses the particular activity pictured and, where relevant, its underlying social or philosophical meaning.