The 19th Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture: Poet Prince and River Nymph: The 'Luoshenfu' in Verse and Painting

Roderick Whitfield (Percival David Emeritus Professor of Chinese & East Asian Art, School of Oriental & African Studies, London) presents the 19th Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture on Chinese Art & Archaeology

Saturday, November 04, 2006
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Lenant Auditorium
Fowler Museum of Cultural History
Los Angeles, CA 90095

View Flash Video Player

Several handscroll paintings by anonymous painters tell the moving love story of the fourth-century Prince Cao Zhi and his vision of the river goddess from the banks of the River Luo as he headed home from the imperial court. They share a common iconography, the majority being thought to date from the Song dynasty. All but two of them reflect a very early landscape style with simplified mountains and trees as a setting for the meetings between prince and goddess. The two exceptions stand out from the rest by their much greater size and elaborate imagery. One, which tells the whole story from beginning to end, is in the collection of the Palace Museum, Peking, where it is ascribed to the Southern Song Dynasty; the other, acquired for the British Museum by Laurence Binyon from a Japanese dealer in 1930, is the focus of this talk. Although the British Museum handscroll lacks the opening scenes, it presents a fascinating example of the way in which Chinese painters approached the depiction of poetic narrative.

* * *

Roderick Whitfield, Percival David Emeritus Professor of Chinese and East Asian Art, and Professorial Research Fellow, Department of Art and Archaeology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, was educated at home and at King Edward’s School, Edgbaston, Birmingham. He attended London, Cambridge, and Princeton Universities, studying with Professors Cheng Te-k’un, Denis C. Twitchett, and Shujiro Shimada. His doctoral dissertation at Princeton under Professor Wen Fong was on Zhang Zeduan’s Qingming shanghe tu (Along the River at the Qingming Festival). From 1968 to 1984 he was Assistant Keeper, Department of Oriental Antiquities, the British Museum, with particular responsibility for Chinese painting, including the Stein collection of Buddhist paintings from Dunhuang. In 1984 he was appointed Head of the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art. He is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Center for Calligraphy and Painting Research, the Palace Museum, Peking; Corresponding Research Fellow of the Dunhuang Academy; and member of the Editorial Board of Artibus Asiae.

* * *

Parking on the UCLA campus is $8. Enter UCLA from Sunset Blvd. at Westwood Plaza. Parking attendants will direct you to Lot 4. There is an elevator at the southeast end of Lot 4 and a stairwell at the northeast end, closest to the museum.

The lecture and museum admission are free and open to the public.

A reception with refreshments will follow the talk.

RSVP (310) 825-8683

For directions or more information, please call (310) 825-8683 or write to


The Sammy Yukuan Lee lectures are sponsored by the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies and funded by the Lee Family Foundation. The series was begun in 1982 in celebration of the eightieth birthday of Sammy Yukuan Lee, a noted collector and authority on Chinese art, particularly lacquers, textiles, and ceramics. Mr. Lee is now in his 104rd year and has retired, in excellent health, to the city of Qingdao, not far from the small town where he was born. The lectures have been held annually in recent years and this year's event is the 19th in the series. The lecture is cosponsored by the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.

Past lectures in the series

18. Recarving China's Past: "Wu Family Shrines" and the Story of the Stones
Cary Y. Liu, Curator of Asian Art, Princeton University Art Museum.
November 5, 2005.

17. Yuanmingyuan: The Garden of Perfect Brightness - a Mirror for the Last Dynasty of China
Che Bing Chiu, Researcher at the Centre de recherche sur l'Extr¨ºme-Orient de Paris-Sorbonne.
November 6, 2004.

16. Long-haired Monks? A Portrait of Two Chinese Buddhist Masters and its Many Contexts
Raoul Birnbaum, Patricia and Rowland Rebele Chair in History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz.
November 1, 2003.

15. Daoist Arts of the Ming Court
Stephen Little, Director Designate of the Honolulu Academy of the Arts.
October 26, 2002.

14. Ancient Bronzes from China's Sichuan Province
Jay Xu, Foster Foundation Associate Curator of Chinese Art, Seattle Art Museum.
October 27, 2001.

13. The Pictorialization of Paradise in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Art
Ning Qiang, Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan.
October 21, 2000.

12. Snake, Stupa, and Sunset: The Making of a Chinese Landscape View Over a Millennium
Eugene Y. Wang, Harvard University.
October 23, 1999.

11. Extraordinary Luxuries in Gold and Jade: The Impact of Western Asia and the Steppe Area on the Imperial Court of the Han Period (206 BC - AD 200)
Jessica Rawson, Warden, Merton College, Oxford University.
October 10, 1998.

10. Refashioning Marriage in Song China
Martin J. Powers, Department of the History of Art, Univeristy of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
October 25, 1997.

9. Art of the Ming Dynasty in the Temples of Shanxi Province
Marsha Weidner, University of Kansas.
October 19, 1996.

8. Sunken Treasures: Underwater Archaeology in China
Yu Weichao, Beijing; Zhang Wei, Beijing; Zhou Chongfa, Wuhan; Tsang Cheng-Hwa, Taipei; Huang Yung-Ch'uan, Taipei; Liu Benan, Byran, U.S.; Porter Hoagland, Woods Hole, U.S.; Chou Hung-Hsiang, UCLA.
October 14, 1995.

7. Images of Women in Chinese Art
Ellen Johnston Laing, Research Associate, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
October 16, 1993.

6. Talking Pictures: The Story of the Wu Liang Shrine
Wu Hung, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University.
December 5, 1992.

5. Some Chinese Bronze Mirrors: Visions of Paradise
Michael Loewe, Professor of Oriental Studies at Cambridge University.
March 28, 1987.

4. Nanyue and Wuyue Cultures: Ancient Cultures on Coastal China and The State of Archaeology in China
Huang Jinglue, Bureau of Museums and Archaeological Data, Beijing; Huang Zhanyue, Institute of Archaeology, Beijing; Mai Yinghao, Guangzhou City Museum, Guangzhou; Shang Zhitan, Zhongshan University, Guangzhou.
March 20, 1986.

3. Carved Lacquer of the Song Dynasty
Yasuhiro Nishioka, Curator of Lacquer, Tokyo National Museum.
May 19, 1984

2. The Emperor’s New Clothes: Reconstructing Seventeenth Century Qing Dynasty Wardrobe
John E. Vollmer, Associate Curator of the textile department, Royal Ontario Museum.
November 5, 1983.

1. Copper Mining in Ancient China: Recent Excavations at Tonglushan
Xia Nai, Director, Institute of Archaeology, Beijing; and Mr. Yin Weizhang, Archaeologist, Institute of Archaeology, Beijing.
September 25, 1982.

Cost : Free

For more information please contant:


Tel: 310 825-8683

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies, Archaeology