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Currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until June 27

Summer Mountains, Attributed to Qu Ding (Chinese, active ca. 1023–ca. 1056), Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), ca. 1050.  Handscroll; ink and color on silk, Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973, Accession Number:  1973.120.1

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Up Close

Close looking is at the heart of Chinese painting and calligraphy. In premodern China, painters and calligraphers learned by copying, a practice that required heightened observation of details. In the process, they also learned how to look—how to detect fine distinctions of ink tone, saturation, and line. Only after years of this type of intense looking could a person be considered a true expert.

This exhibition will encourage such looking by displaying original artworks alongside photographic enlargements of their details. The magnified details draw attention to subtleties of brushwork, texture, and line that may escape a viewer at first glance. Ultimately, the enlargements draw us back to the original, revealing the rewards that close looking can offer.