Wednesday July 15, 2020

The Artistic Talents of Generalissimo and Madame Chiang
May 20-July 11, 2019
Washington, DC

To celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander Month, the U.S.-China Policy Foundation has put a collection of Chinese paintings and calligraphy on display. The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, showcases Chinese paintings by Soong Mei-ling, the “First Lady of China,” and calligraphy by her Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Republic of China, showing a different side of this famous historic couple.

Two Pieces
Madame Chiang (Soong Mei-ling) (1897-2003) was a loved figure during her lifetime. Despite being married to the leader of the Chinese Nationalists, she was well-respected by all Chinese across the political spectrum and gained international recognition.

Madame Chiang was a sophisticated, American educated woman who played a significant role in gaining American support for the Chinese plight at the hands of the Japanese. She made the cover of TIME Magazine on multiple occasions and spoke before a joint session of Congress in 1943, becoming the second woman and first Chinese national to do so. She was also in attendance at the Cairo Conference in 1943 as Chiang Kai-shek’s interpreter. This conference was pivotal in deciding the post-war future of Asia.

Given her Western upbringing, Madame Chiang once reportedly claimed “The only thing Oriental about me is my face.” Despite that assertion, she embraced the art of Chinese painting, often painting flowers, waterfalls, and other landscapes. Calligraphy done by her husband, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Zhongzheng) (1887-1975), are also on display.

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was the leader of the Republic of China from 1928-1975. Following the classical Chinese tradition, Generalissimo Chiang, like many of his predecessors and contemporaries, mastered the art of calligraphy. It was considered an essential skill for the scholars and elite of Imperial China. Even after the fall of Imperial China, this practice carried forward to the successive leadership — both Nationalist and Communist. Today, however, the same importance is no longer placed on calligraphy and it is a dying art form.

The pieces in this exhibit come from the personal collection of Chi Wang. Both Generalissimo and Madame Chiang were family friends. He later had the privilege of befriending Madame Chiang himself when she moved to the U.S. later in her life. He even helped arrange for her to speak before Congress for a second time in 1995. Professor Wang hopes that by sharing this exhibit, people will see a different side of the Chiangs. Art and culture played a significant role in their lives. This is a passion shared by the collector, one he hopes those who visit the exhibit will also come to appreciate.

Exhibit Brochure: here

News Links: World Journal (here), United Daily News (here)