A Visit to the Xu Beihong Museum in Beijing

I visited the Xu Beihong Museum (徐悲鸿纪念馆) in Beijing and took the photographs in this post in late October 2019. It is likely that few western visitors have visited this Museum since I was there, given that China is likely to remain off limits for foreign travel for some time to come. The Museum is located near Jishuitan subway station in the West Central area of Beijing; it is also close to the ‘West Sea’.

Xu Beihong was and remains a famous Chinese painter of the first half of the 20th century. He was born in 1895 and died in 1953 at the relatively young age of 58. He first studied painting with his father as a child in Jiangsu Province, then went on to study at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts (now part of the Nanjing University of the Arts). He later studied in Paris at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Beaux Arts and spent 10 years in Europe working as an artist and travelling. He returned to China in 1927 and spent the following decades teaching and painting. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, he became President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Chairman of the China Artists Association. He was one of the first Chinese artists to combine Chinese and Western painting styles and is well known for his paintings of animals and birds.

I have seen Xu’s works in a number of Chinese museums, but this memorial Museum in Beijing contains the largest collection by far.

Xu Beihong Museum in Beijing (located in Beijing West Central, 5 North Road, Xin Jiekou/北京西城区-新街口北大街5号). It is just across the road from Jishuitan Subway Station.
Xu Beihong with Qi Baishi in Beijing, 1948. Qi Baishi (1864-1957) is also one of the best known modern Chinese painters and is especially famous for his ‘bird and flower’ and landscape works.
Lu Xun (author) and Qu Qiubai (CCP revolutionary), charcoal on paper, early 1950s
Injured Lion, 1938
Group of Horses, 1940
Cotton Tree, 1940
Galloping Horse, date not known
White Plum Tree, 1943
Large Tree and Two Horses, 1938
‘Join Forces in Dongjing (Tokyo)’, 1943. The caption to the painting says this was painted at a time when Xu Beihong had decided China and its allies were likely to win the war against Japan. The painting represents “China and its anti-fascist allies joining forces at the top of Mount Fuji”.
Indian Cattle, 1939
Galloping Horse, 1941
Xu Beihong and his second wife Liao Jingwen at Beihai in Beijing, early 1950s

Michael Ingle – michaelingle01@gmail.com

Categories: Uncategorized

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