Summer Trees Casting Shade celebrates BAMPFA’s acclaimed Chinese painting collection with over fifty works dating from the twelfth to eighteenth centuries. The diverse subject matter—from monumental landscapes to intimate views of quiet gardens, and from figures of lofty gentlemen to seldom-depicted street characters—highlights the richness of the collection.
BAMPFA has long been known as home to a robust collection of Chinese paintings, thanks in large part to the late scholar, collector, and UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus James Cahill. Cahill’s personal collection forms the central core of our holdings, which he used to great effect in his nearly thirty years teaching at the University. The exhibition also includes other important gifts and purchases made over the last fifty years.
The first Chinese painting entered the BAMPFA collection in 1967. Scholar Instructing Girl Students, by the noted figure painter Chen Hongshou (1598–1652), remains an iconic image, one that will forever be identified with a history of collecting distinguished Chinese paintings. A Berkeley alum purchased the painting for BAMPFA from an important collection belonging to the noted scholar and collector Victoria Contag, who literally “wrote the book” on Chinese painting (Seals of Chinese Painters and Collectors (1940)). Our most recent acquisition, Landscape with Buildings, a monumental fourteenth-century landscape painting by Sun Junze, originally in the James Cahill collection, was donated in 2015 by Sarah Cahill in memory of her father.
Summer Trees Casting Shade is an opportunity to enjoy a cool respite from hot summer days and indulge in fine examples of Chinese painting.