Travelers Among Mountains and Streams
Travelers Among Mountains and Streams
National Treasure Intro
Fan Kuan was a landscape painter during the Northern Song dynasty, Travelers Among Mountains and Streams is his greatest work. Fan Kuan began by studying the works of the Five Dynasties landscape painters Li Cheng and Jing Hao, and was so enamored with nature that he transformed his years of observation of natural scenery into ink on silk, creating this masterpiece that has been passed down for thousands of years.
Fan Kuan’s use of light colors to outline the rocks of the mountains, lush forests and waterfalls presents a sense of three-dimensional space, while the figures and donkeys appear small but vivid. The painting was described by Liu Dao-chun, an art critic at that time, as “a distant view without leaving one’s seat,” meaning that the painting gives the impression that you’re looking at a distant scene, with the effect that the scene is right in front of your eyes. The painting was praised by Dong Qi-chang, a leading painter and calligrapher during the Ming dynasty, as “the best Song dynasty painting.”
This painting is now in the National Palace Museum, and together with Guo Xi’s Early Spring and Li Tang’s Wind in Pines Among a Myriad Valleys, it is known as the “trio of national treasures” at the National Palace Museum. The silk scroll is easily scorched and brittle, so to protect this precious artwork and reduce the time it is exposed to light, after each time it is exhibited there must be a 3-year break, and it cannot be exhibited for more than 42 days. It was designated as a national treasure in 2012.
- Wang Yumin, “New Discoveries about Travelers Among Mountains and Streams.” The National Palace Quarterly, No. 166: 1997, pp. 46-57.
- Ni Tsaichin, “Divine Paintings: The National Palace Museum’s Trio of National Treasures,” Art & Collection, No. 174: 2007, pp. 80-85.
- Li Peishi, “The Glory and Clues Behind Seals: Research on the Three Compilations and Seals of the Shiqu Baoji.” Art & Collection, No. 208: 2010, pp. 84-93.
- Chen Yun-Ru and He Yan-Chiuan, Grand View: Special Exhibition of Northern Sung Painting and Calligraphy, Taipei: National Palace Museum, 2006.
- Cai Meifen, Splendid Treasures: A Hundred Masterpieces of the National Palace Museum on Parade, Taipei: National Palace Museum, 2011.
- Liu Fang-ju, Pu Li-An and Chen Yun-Ru, National Treasures of the Museum: Masterpiece Paintings by Fan Kuan, Guo Xi and Li Tang, Taipei: National Palace Museum, 2021.
The National Palace Museum (NPM) was established on October 10, 1925, when there were tens of thousands of paintings and pieces of calligraphy in the collection of the Qing court, which could be seen in the Forbidden City in Beijing. After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the NPM moved its cultural relics to the south of China. The war ended in 1945, however in 1948, because of the ongoing civil war between the Kuomintang (KMT) and Communist Party, the KMT moved the artifacts in the NPM to Taiwan, then temporarily placed them in Beigou, Wufeng, Taichung. Later, a new museum in Waishuangxi, Taipei, started to be built. The new building was completed in August 1965 and formally opened to the public in November. In December 2015, the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum in Chiayi officially opened.
The NPM’s collection of artifacts were inherited from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing courts. Later, the artifacts transported to Taiwan from the Preparatory Department of the National Central Museum were incorporated into the NPM’s collection. The NPM houses hundreds of thousands of collected and acquired artifacts. These have gradually been digitized and are available on the “National Palace Digital Archive.” Some digital image files of artifacts are available on the “Open Data ” and can be used by the public under a Creative Commons license.
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