'China’s Mona Lisa' Makes a Rare Appearance in Hong Kong

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Politics and art don’t always mix well, but the combination has yielded a rare chance for Hong Kong residents and visitors to see what is arguably China’s most famous painting.

Trying to foster nationalistic pride in China’s heritage among Hong Kong residents, the Chinese government has sent 32 artworks here for an exhibition to mark the 10th anniversary of Britain’s return of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997. Among them is Zhang Zeduan’s “Along the River During the Qingming Festival,” a scroll painted in the early 12th century.

“Qingming Festival” is famous partly for its involvement over centuries in palace intrigues, theft and wars, and partly for its detailed, geometrically accurate images of bridges, wine shops, sedan chairs and boats beautifully juxtaposed with flowing lines for the depiction of mountains and other natural scenery. It is routinely covered in courses on Chinese history, art and culture, across China and in the West.

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