Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mount Pan

The Qianlong Emperor, Panshan, 1745
In the Royal Academy’s Three Emperors Exhibition (discussed last month) there is another inscribed landscape: a hanging scroll, painted by the Qianlong Emperor in 1745, depicting Mount Pan. The Emperor had built a mountain villa there the previous year and his painting shows some of the renowned beauty spots of the area, with a place name written next to each one. The scroll was added to over time. It includes 34 poetic inscriptions dated between 1745 and 1793. The Emperor added these on each visit to the villa and they cover all the blank spaces in the original painting. The poems record thoughts inspired by the landscape. For example, one poem composed in 1791 records the apricot blossoms opening in the warm weather, and the Emperor’s conclusion that a benevolent ruler can produce a similar transformation in his people.

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