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A fine judge of art

Updated: December 18, 2023 L M S


[Photo provided to China Daily]

In 1956, Liu Jiu'an became qualified to appraise and research classic Chinese painting and calligraphy at the Palace Museum. His first task included a business assignment to Wuhan, Hubei province, in which he identified a Song Dynasty (960-1279) painting from a pile of works that were initially thought to be "false and not good".

Over the following decades, he dedicated himself to his work, aided by his extensive knowledge in the field and an eye that could discern the wheat from the chaff.

He helped recognize fine and rare works, many of which have entered the collections of public museums. Meanwhile, his work laid the foundations for authentication studies at art universities and he invented new approaches to benefit researchers in the field.

A retrospective exhibition of Liu's career is being held at the Pan Tianshou Memorial, at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, until Jan 12. His notes, photos, calligraphic works, letters and other collections of art are on show to unveil the depth and scope of his studies of the ink tradition. It shows how a young apprentice, coming from the countryside, gained his initial education in Chinese painting while working at antique stores, became a dealer and then rose to be a connoisseur whose hard work and insight helped enrich the national collection. A forum was also held to discuss Liu's work and influence.

9 am-4:30 pm, closed on Mondays and Friday afternoons. 212 Nanshan Lu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. 0571-8791-2845.

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