Exhibitions/ The Art of the Chinese Album

The Art of the Chinese Album

At The Met Fifth Avenue
September 6 / 2014–March 29 / 2015
Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

Exhibition Overview

This exhibition showcases the album, one of the most intimate of Chinese painting formats. The special structure of the album, in which each turn of the page is an opportunity to remake the world anew, presents unique possibilities and challenges for artists. For Dai Benxiao (1621–1693), the album was a chance to plumb the depths of a single style, like a jazz improviser testing the limits of a single musical mode. For Shitao (1642–1707), the album provided the opportunity to shock and surprise the viewer with radical shifts in perspective and subject from page to page. For Dong Qichang (1555–1636) and his followers, the album was a stage on which to display their art historical knowledge by devoting each leaf to the style of a different old master. This exhibition explores these and other ways that artists have used this format from the twelfth century to the present.

The exhibition is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund.

Exhibition Objects


Unidentified artist. One hundred portraits of Peking opera characters (detail), late 19th–early 20th century. Qing dynasty (1644–1911). China. Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.76.299a–xx)