In early 20th century when the Chinese nation was in peril, a great number of precious cultural relics scattered. With a heart of cherising Chinese culture and couldn’t bear to see these relics being transferred to other countries or being destroyed by wars, many intellectuals tried their best to collect, protect and do researches on such relics, which opened a new chapter on cultural relics researches in China. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, public museums were under vigorous construction, and many collectors had donated their life-time collections to these museums, making a monumental landmark for the development of Chinese museums. It is safe to say that the construction of every public museum is closely related to the generous donation by private collectors. When the nation was in destitution, they undertook the mission of guarding national cultural heritage with their own power, and shared their resources when the country was in peacetime construction. In this exhibition, we display collections donated by such a genuine collector: Mr. K. Yung.
Mr. K. Yung (1894—1983), original name Zhaogeng, style name Xibai, pseudonyms Rong Zhai and Song Zhai, was born in Dongguan of Guangdong Province. He was a famous paleography expert and cultural connoisseur. He successively held teaching posistions at Yanching University, Peking University, Lingnan University and Sun Yat-sen University. He also served as member of Antique Appraisal Committee of the Antique Institute in the Palace Museum, member of Guangdong Provincial Cultural Relics Management Committee and member of the national committee of CPPCC.
The major collections of Mr. K. Yung included bronze wares, paintings and calligraphies. In 1956, he donated some of his collections to the country for the first time to support national museum construction. In his late years, he donated all his collections, including bronze wares, Chinese paintings and calligraphies, letters by celebrities and books to the nation. Quite a lot of museums benefited from his generosity, such as the Guangzhou Museum of Art, the Guangzhou Museum, the Guangdong Museum, the Dongguan Museum, the Sun Yat-sen University and the Sun Yat-sen Library of Guangdong Province.
Among our collections of over ten thousand pieces of paintings and calligraphies of all dynasties, nearly one-tenth was donated by Mr. K. Yung, many of which were the most precious collection in the Museum, including Mountains in the Cloud of the Southern Song Dynasty, Streams and Mountains by Huang Gongwang of the Yuan Dynasty, High Mountains and Long Rivers by Dai Jin of the Ming Dynasty, and Birds Gathering on Tree in Autumn by Lin Liang.
Receiving the largest number of collections by Mr. K. Yung, the Guangzhou Museum of Art presents in this year the Special Exhibition of Paintings and Calligraphies Donated by Mr. K. Yung, with the aim to reorganize the paintings and calligraphies donated by Mr. K. Yung through the exhibition and catalogue. Taking the book Studio of Ode on Painting and Calligraphy by Mr. K. Yung as a clue, we selected more than one hundred pieces(sets) of works from more than one thousand pieces pieces(sets) of donated by him which are now in the Museum’s collection. Combining information from other relevant cultural relics and manucripts, we try our best to show the strenuous course of this collector who searched, protected and did researches on these relics. The exhibition is composed of two sections: paintings in the first time section and calligraphies in the second time section. Hopefully, we are able to advance relevant researches in this field as well.
Mr. K. Yung once noted when he donated his collection: “It is extremely hard to gather all my collection, but it is also easy to scatter them around. If they shall scatter after my death, I shall present them to my country now, and let more people protect and make better use of them.” We shall take his words as our encouragement.
Guangzhou Museum of Art