¡°Cultivation on the Peaceful Land¡± by Xu Beihong: a Great Epic

2011-11-23 15:39:54

    In the history of Chinese painting, Xu Beihong is a modern painting master and art educationist. The spirit of Xu Beihong, which was apparently showed in the after-colonial time, has invigorated and inspired us to strengthen our ethical self-confidence in the angst from the antinomy not only between the nationalization and the modernization but also between the indigenization and the globalization.

    ¡°Cultivation on the Peaceful Land¡± is one of the masterpieces that perfectly demonstrate the spirit of XU Beihong. It is painted in the spring of 1951, only two years before the painter¡¯s early death. This large size masterpiece of XU Beihong used to be in the collection of GUO Moruo and reserved in GUO Moruo Museum together with an important painting of FU Baoshi ¡°Li Ren Xing¡± (The Song of Beautiful Ladies).






   As what the words inscribed in the painting tell, ¡°Cultivation on the Peaceful Land¡± is painted as a gift when Guo Moro returned from the Third Conference of Peace in 1951. Xu Beihong and Guo Moruo met in 1925 on the exhibition ¡°Xiao Han Hui¡± in Shanghai where Xu Beihong presented several oil paintings. During the War of Resistance against Japan, both Guo and Xu moved to Chong Qing. When Guo Moruo finished his article ¡°A Letter from the Literary and Art Circles in the Provisional Capital about the Current Situation¡± suggesting the establishment of a Democracy Coalition Government which included the Chinese Communist Party, he sent this article to Xu Beihong and Xu signed on it with no hesitation in spite of the danger that might cause. The article¡¯s publication on ¡°Xin Hua Daily¡± aroused the anger of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), however, the threat from the authority could not change the political belief of Guo Moruo and Xu Beihong. This experience deepened their friendship. After the Communist's victory in China, they both lived in Beijing and the two families became close as well.

    Since July 1950, Xu Beihong was seriously ill and stopped nearly all his social activities during one year. In 1951, Guo Moruo led the Chinese delegation to attend the third session of the Conference of World Peace in Berlin. On 9th April 1952, Guo Moruo was awarded the ¡°World Peace¡± Gold Medal of Stalin in Moscow. ¡°Cultivation on the Peaceful Land¡± was the gift Xu Beihong painted for his friend with whom he had long since shared the same political belief.




   The theme of this painting roots in North Song Dynasty politician and poet Ouyang Xiu¡¯s ¡°A Letter to Tian Yuanjun¡±. 1951 is the second year of the Korean War. As the Chinese People¡¯s Volunteer Army fought on the front line, the Chinese people worked hard on the industrial and agricultural production to support the solders. That¡¯s why Xu Beihong mentioned ¡°even the farmers are all brave solders¡± in the inscription of this painting.

    Although farmers are a frequent theme in Xu Beihong¡¯s sketches from nature, it is rare to see this theme in his ink and wash painting. ¡°Cultivation on the Peaceful Land¡± is based on true life. Its realistic feature shows the portrait of Chinese people in their natural environment of living.

    Mr. Xu Qingping, the principle of the Xu Beihong Art Institution comments on this painting that the relationship between the figures and the environment on this painting is very well organized. The willow has not yet had green leaves, but we can see some light green on it. We immediately sense the spring and understand that this is the spring cultivation. So I think this is an important work at the late years of Xu Beihong.




    Clients interested in Xu Beihong¡¯s ¡°Cultivation on the Peaceful Land¡± please contact the Department of Modern Chinese Painting (tel: 010 ¨C 6408 2159; email: for the special catalogue ¡°Cultivation on the Peaceful Land: a Great Epic¡±.