An art exhibition to commemorate the 170th Anniversary of the Tushan Bay Art Gallery was recently shown at the Xujiahui Academy not far from Tushan Bay Art Museum.
Shanghai library researcher Zhangwei, Shanghai Xuhui District Library, Tushan Bay Art Museum, and Xuhui District Art Museum jointly launched the exhibition at the beginning of 2023, according to the Shanghai Xuhui District Bureau of Culture and Tourism.
It was noted that the pioneering status of Tushan Bay in cultural exchanges between China and the West was demonstrated by a large number of images and documents, half of which were exhibited for the first time.
The exhibits painted by members of this art gallery included four watercolor portraits of Xu Guangqi (a Chinese scholar-official), Matteo Ricci (an Italian Jesuit priest), Johann Adam Schall von Bell (a German Jesuit and astronomer), and Ferdinand Verbiest (a Flemish missionary). These works had been exhibited at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. The exhibition also showed masterworks from the founder of the museum, Joannes Ferrer (Spanish missionary and architect) and his student disciple Zhang Chongren, as well as a new work: "Records of Personages in the Tushan Bay Art Gallery".
Called "the cradle of Chinese Western painting" by famous painter Xu Beihong, the gallery has trained more than 300 students. Their works now appear throughout China and the world. Closely connected with Christianity from its beginnings in China, the gallery also celebrates the Christian faith. Here students were shaped and influenced, resulting in the creation of many religious works.
Founding an art gallery in Xuhui District in 1852, Joannes Ferrer was responsible for teaching sculpture and printmaking while working with Italian Father Nicolas Massa, who was the first foreigner to teach Shanghai students Western oil painting.
When Joannes Ferrer died of illness at the age of 39 in 1856, his student, Lu Bodu, together with Italian Father Nicolas Massa and the Frenchman Hermey, took over his work. In 1864, the Tushanwan Craft House for orphans was established, with Lu being invited to teach Western art to orphans.
In 1872, Lu and his favorite student, Liu Dezhai, moved the Xujiahui Art Gallery to the Tushanwan Orphanage, commonly known as Tushanwan Art Gallery. Due to Lu Budu's long-term illness, Liu, whose family had been Catholics for generations, joined the Society of Jesus in 1867 and became the gallery’s first director. The gallery was most prosperous from 1880 to 1912. It was then in the charge of Liu Dezhai, who died in July 1912.
In 1913, Xavier Coup, a French Jesuit, came to China to manage the painting gallery and printing library.
Yu Kai, a Chinese friar, was the last director of the gallery before it was merged into the Shanghai Wuhua Umbrella Factory in 1958. Although many works of teachers and students were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, more and more people are beginning to study and discover the history of Tushan Bay. Exhibitions now express appreciation and commemorate the culture of Tushanwan.
Besides objects, pictures, and words used to tell the 170-year history of the art gallery, the "Architecture Appreciation Volunteer Alliance” and the art museum jointly provide professional explanations for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday. Having worked in Xujiahui Library to study the culture of Tushan Bay for nearly 40 years, Zhang Wei, who curated the exhibition and was a famous expert in modern literature and Shanghai School literature research, died of an illness on January 11, 2023.
- Translated by Abigail Wu