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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Chinese
Title: In Memory of Mount Vernon
Date: 1915
Medium: Hanging scroll: ink on paper
Dimensions: Overall: 46 15/16 x 13 3/4 inches (119.2 x 35 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Sheila Dai and Michael Messitt
Object Number: 2002.035
Label Text: “In Memory of Mount Vernon” is a poem written in 1905 by Kang Youwei, the leader of the constitutional reform efforts of the late Qing period who became a political exile after the failure of the Hundred Days Reform in 1898. During his exile, he traveled extensively. The poem records his visit to Mount Vernon, the home and final resting place of George Washington, and shares his impression of the landscape of the Potomac River and his great admiration for American democracy. Kang compiled sixty-four poems during the three years he traveled through Europe and America.

This particular scroll was created by Kang after he returned from his exile. As a proponent of the stelae tradition of calligraphy, he developed a unique semicursive style that is powerful, unrestrained, and completely distinct from the elegant and graceful manner of the classical manuscript school. Kang’s fundamental thesis was that “the way of calligraphy and the way of governments are similarly liable to change.” This discourse on change was in relation to the events leading up to the Hundred Days Reform. ("Debating Art: Chinese Intellectuals at the Crossroads," curated by Yuhua Ding, with assistance by Elizabeth Emrich, and presented at the Johnson Museum February 2-July 8, 2018)

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.