For me, a trip to Paris is never complete without a visit to the Guimet, and luckily I was in time to catch their recent display on China - a showcase for Chinese artefacts from the museum’s own collections, which were built up by Émile Guimet (1836-1918). It was themed around the different materials that the artists used, including bronze, jade, lacquer and ceramics.
In the main, this was a chance to gaze on some exquisite artworks, not least the ink paintings. Landscapes by Zha Shibiao (1615-1698) and Wang Chen (1720-1797); Qi Baishi’s painting of shrimp (1951); Zhang Daqian’s painting of the Lady of the Xiang River (1974), an archaic theme inspired by Qu Yuan’s Nine Songs.
However, the mode of display felt peculiar in one or two galleries, where in order to highlight one particular piece, they had masked everything else in the case from view – not wholly satisfying if you are a “completer-finisher” type.
Sublimes matières - À travers 5000 ans de création en Chine
Musée Guimet, Paris
26 March to 9 June 2014 (now closed)
Above: Meiping vase. Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), mid 14th c. Porcelain with cobalt blue decoration. Height: 33.6cm. Musée Guimet. Image at: http://www.guimet.fr/fr/collections/chine/133-vase-meiping