The works in this exhibition were selected from the Ashmolean’s collection to complement the Museum’s spring exhibition Xu Bing: Landscape Landscript (28 February-19 May 2013).

Since 1999, Xu Bing (b. 1955) has painted landscapes that exploit the fact that the first Chinese characters looked like pictures. He uses the character for stone (石) to represent stones, the character for tree (木) to represent trees, and so on. In a set of four new works to go on display (Gallery 60) he has for the first time used this method to make landscapes that copy paintings by earlier artists dating from the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties.

This exhibition included 17th-century paintings that belong to the same tradition that Xu Bing copies. Others bear inscriptions that stated the artist’s debt to painters of earlier generations. The Chinese landscape painting tradition is based on reworking forms and styles established hundreds of years ago: the early paintings displayed show the tradition at around its mid-point so far, while the later works demonstrate its endurance.

Eastern Art Online presents an online version of Chinese Landscapes from the Ashmolean Collection, currently on display in the Ashmolean's Chinese Paintings Gallery. It enables visitors to browse and search all exhibition objects and their high-quality zoomable images online.

View the online collection here

The exhibition was open at the Ashmolean Museum 9 February – 21 July 2013.