VIRTUAL: Chinese Brush Painting at the Freer Gallery

Expert docent Dr. Yuan Liu invites Harvard Club members and their guests to explore this ancient art. 

Date: Monday, August 1, 2022 at 4:30 - 5:30pm ET 
Location: Virtual via Zoom 


Long before the Chinese invented paper in the first century B.C.E., they devised the round brush, which is used for both writing and painting. The unique versatility of the Chinese brush lies in its tapered tip, which is composed of a careful grouping of chosen animal hairs. Through this resilient tip flow the ever-changing linear qualities of the twin arts of the brush: calligraphy and painting.

Since painting and calligraphy share many of the same materials and techniques, the relationship between the two art forms has always been a close one in China. The earliest examples of brushwork are writings found on the so-called "oracle bones," the bones of certain animals used for divination during the Shang dynasty (ca. 1600–1050 B.C.E.), when the origin of systematic writing in China began. Over the next two thousand years, five major script types—seal, clerical, standard, running, and cursive— developed. Though the basic evolution of the Chinese writing system was complete by the fourth century C.E., calligraphy continued to develop as an artistic medium until the present day. Similarly, while the earliest known brush paintings on silk were excavated from tombs of the Warring States Period (480–221 B.C.E.), painting as an art of personal expression also began its early formative period around the fourth century C.E. and has steadily evolved over the following centuries.


Dr. Yuan Liu is a neuroscientist, writer, photographer and public lecturer. She received her bachelors and masters degrees from Peking University and PhD from Basel University in Switzerland. She was a research scientist and later served as an International Office Chief at the National Institutes of Health. She published many scientific research papers as well as articles focusing on Asian art. Her book about the US Library of Congress received three “Top 100 Books” awards in China. In 2014 Yuan became a volunteer docent at the National Museum of Asian Art. Since 2020, she has led more than 80 online tours for the museum, and delivered more than 20 cultural webinars to different communities, served thousands of listeners from across five continents.

This event is limited to Harvard Club members and their guests. Participants must register in advance.


Harvard Club members and their guests: FREE