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Curator’s Choice ‘The One-Eyed Pilgrim’: A Forgotten Chinese Painter from Tianjin

I am sure that fellow art historians would agree that one of the most exciting aspects of our work is that of playing detective. More often than we could have anticipated when embarking on this profession we are faced with a complete mystery of an artwork, an artist’s career or a style. When I started as a curator at the National Gallery (NGP) in the Czech capital Prague in 2002, I was very much attracted by its huge and famous collection of modern Chinese ink paintings, at the time still uncatalogued and largely unexplored. I had read articles by my predecessors introducing the Chinese collection to the world, such as those by Oldřich Král and Ladislav Kesner in Orientations (December 1988 and August 1991), and the few general catalogues of the collection, but was quite unaware of its true scope and content. There was as yet no catalogue raisonné of the 20th century ink paintings, and no one had ventured beyond publishing a few works by the most renowned Chinese artists, such as Qi Baishi (1864–1957), Lin Fengmian (1900–91) and Xu Beihong (1895–1953).

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July/August 2020
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