The exhibition presents works of secular, Buddhist and Catholic art as a “concrete gesture with a high symbolic value". For Vatican Museums director Barbara Jatta, this is a form of “diplomacy of art" grafted onto "the centuries-long tradition of the Church”, which is “what the Holy Father expects of ‘his’ Museums!”
Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Vatican Museums and the Palace Museum of Beijing today opened the exhibition Beauty Unites Us – Chinese Art from the Vatican Museums dedicated to secular, Buddhist and Catholic art as a “concrete gesture with a high symbolic value", the Vatican Museums press release says.
In all, 76 works of Chinese art owned by the Vatican are now on display in Beijing, at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City (exhibition poster pictured), including an embroidered 18th century fabric, a paper and silk scroll from the 16th century, which reproduces the development of the Great Wall, and panels of the same period with drawings of plants and birds.
The Vatican Museums are not new to this kind of collaboration, but this is the first exhibition held in Beijing. In this regard, Vatican Museums director Barbara Jatta, director of the Museums, on the occasion of the announcement of the initiative, on 21 November 2017, spoke of “a shared awareness,” of the ability “to speak a universal language, that can only be that of beauty, which makes a powerful appeal to harmony and unity.”
In this particular case, the Vatican Museums, she added, pursue a "diplomacy of art" grafted onto "the centuries-long tradition of the Church”, which “is what the Holy Father expects of ‘his’ Museums!”
The exhibition – curated by Father Nicola Mapelli, head of the Anima Mundi Department of the Vatican Museums, and Wang Yuegong, director of Palace Life and Imperial Ritual Department – will be open to the public until 14 July 2019.
The goal of the event is to present the cultural message of the Chinese collection of art held by the Anima Mundi Department of the Vatican Museums, putting on display a good many of its works of secular, Buddhist and Catholic art inside the Forbidden City.
The presence of considerable set of works by Chinese artists is of particular importance as a sign of the encounter between Christianity and China’s own artistic traditions.
Two extraordinary, original masterpieces will also be on display, namely oil paintings from Vatican Pinacoteca (Art Gallery): Rest On the Flight to Egypt (1570 – 1573) by Federico Barocci and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (late 18th century) by Peter Wenzel.
The exhibition also includes works selected by the Palace Museum, which, in a show of great friendship and generosity, added famous works by Catholic artist Wu Li (1632- 1718) and Giuseppe Castiglione, a Jesuit from Milan known in China as Lang Shining (1688- 1766).