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Parts of classic Chinese painting reunited after 360 years of separation

TAIPEI, July 29 — Visitors to the Palace Museum in Taipei next June are in for a treat: they will be able to view the two parts of a legendary Chinese painting together.

"Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains" is one of the most important classical Chinese paintings.

It was torn into two in a fire in 1650. The right part, 51.4-cm. long, is kept in the mainland's Zhejiang Museum, while the left part, 636.9-cm. long, is held in Taipei's Palace Museum.

The Taipei Palace Museum formally announced Thursday the two parts of the scroll painting will be displayed together in a four-month exhibition beginning in June.

The scroll painting of unusual length was created by famed painter Huang Gongwang (1269-1354) in 1350. It vividly depicts an early autumn scene on the banks of the Fuchun River in Hangzhou. It is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of traditional Chinese landscape painting technique.

"The long scroll was finished by Huang when he was 82-years old, and it can be considered an abstract representation of his whole life. He used new techniques to create it," said Chiang Hsun, a renowned art history expert in Taiwan.

The scroll is regarded as a "painting symphony," with the right part as an inalienable overture, Chiang said, adding that he "had dreamed of seeing the two pieces together for many years."

Huang's work marked the start of a new Chinese painting school, Literati Painting, which dominated the Chinese art scene in the following centuries.

Painters of the school were also poets, intellectuals and calligraphers, not just professional painters. They turned painting into a comprehensive means of self-expression by writing poems and short essays on the sides of their works.

"In addition to displaying the painting, the exhibition will celebrate Huang's life, the works of his friends and his influence in Chinese art history," said Kung-shin Chou, curator of the Palace Museum in Taipei.

Moreover, visitors will also be able to appreciate replicas of Huang's works created by other famous painters, she said.

The painting has been a favorite of painters and collectors for centuries. One collector, Wu Hongyu, decided to burn the painting so he could have it forever. It was in this fire the scroll was torn apart.

For the exhibition, the museum will collaborate with the Palace Museum in Beijing, the National Museum of China and museums in Shanghai, Nanjing and Yunnan.

"We have never worked with so many mainland counterparts in one exhibition," she said.

In March, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for the scroll's two pieces to reunite. (PNA/Xinhua) vcs/utb

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