In traditional Chinese culture, plum blossoms, orchids, bamboos and chrysanthemums are known as 'The Four Gentlemen'. This analogy originated in the Wanli reign of the Ming dynasty, when the literati painter Chen Jiru inscribed on the Painting manual of plum blossom, bamboo, orchid and chrysanthemum. In the inscription, he claimed that appreciating and acquiring the characteristics of 'The Four Gentlemen' – the unyieldingness of plum blossoms, the aloof beauty of orchids, the modest and noble character of bamboos and the loftiness of chrysanthemums – can cleanse one's mind and add gracefulness to the personality.
Famous calligraphers, painters and literati like Tao Yuanming and Su Shi always employed the theme of plum blossoms, orchids, bamboos and chrysanthemums in their paintings and poems so as to glorify and pursue the noble character and sentiments of a gentleman. In traditional Chinese New Year, "The Four Gentlemen" were commonly used in folk culture for sending blessings. This exhibition has selected from the museum's collection over 70 pieces of works by calligraphers and painters from the Ming dynasty to modern period, including Xu Wei of the Ming dynasty, Zheng Xie of the Qing dynasty, as well as modern Chinese painters like Wu Changshuo and Zhang Daqian.