The term “New Year painting” was first seen in Li Guangting’s book Xiang Yan Jie Yi written during the Daoguang period of the Qing Dynasty. It wrote that “After sweeping their houses before the Chinese New Year’s Eve, people start to put up New Year paintings, which is a fun activity for children.” The genre of New Year paintings is a unique folk art form in China. It emerged in the Song Dynasty, developed during the Yuan and Ming dynasties, and reached its peak in the Qing Dynasty. It has distinctive national characteristics and rich traditional cultural connotations, carrying with it the people’s longing for a better life.
Chinese folk New Year paintings are widely distributed. New Year paintings in different regions have drawn nourishment and inspiration from rural life and developed continuously over the long course of history, forming different artistic styles and distinctive local characteristics. With a wide range of themes and rich content, New Year paintings depict scenes of daily life and reflect the attitudes and morals of the Chinese people. New Year paintings are full in composition and exaggerated in shape, while their lines are simple and their color contrast pronounced. They have distinct folk painting styles and also possess considerable value in terms of artistic appreciation and academic research.
The National Museum of China is holding “Pray for Auspicious Blessings: An Exhibition of Folk New Year Painting” in order to fully display the charm of folk art, create a festive and peaceful holiday atmosphere and present our best New Year wishes to all visitors. The New Year paintings on exhibit are from Chinese folk art museums, including outstanding paintings from Yangjiabu (Shandong), Zongjiazhuang (Shandong), Tantou (Hunan), Zhuxianzhen (Henan), Tancheng (Shandong), Nantong (Jiangsu), Yangliuqing (Tianjin), Taohuawu (Jiangsu), Beijing, Fengxiang (Shanxi) and Zhangzhou (Fujian), as well as other important New Year painting producing areas.
We sincerely hope that this exhibition can guide audiences to gain an understanding of Chinese New Year paintings and appreciate the enduring charm of Chinese folk art accumulated in the fertile soil of life and long river of history.