The University of Florida‘s Harn Museum of Art at Gainesville is a small museum with wings dedicated to African, American and Asian arts and traveling exhibits. I visited this museum in 2009 and in 2013 when my younger son was doing his graduate study at UF. I was surprised to see several high quality antique Chinese scholar’s rocks (Gongshi, 供石) displayed in their Cofrin Asian Art Wing.
I almost could not recognize the following Taihu (Great Lake) stone from my 2009 visit. It was placed in a corner and the stone appeared very holey at that viewing angle. In my 2013 visit, this stone was displayed so that one could see it all around, and it looked different at different angles.
The next scholar’s rock is a black “linglong” (玲珑) stone. This kind of stone is normally carved to look like a mythical beasts, a dragon in this case, with a lot movements and cloud-like folds, indentations etc.
The following stone was displayed during my first visit, but not in my 2013 visit. It is a black stone, either a Ying or Lingbi limestone, in the shape of a coiled dragon. The form is similar to “pig-dragon” jade pieces found in Chinese neolithic Hongshan culture, 3800-2700 BCE.
There were several Chinese scholar’s rock exhibitions held at various art institutes in the past. The most famous was from the late Richard Rosenblum’s collections at the Harvard University Art Museum. A book, entitled “Worlds Within Worlds”, was published for the exhibition. It is full of information on Chinese scholar’s rocks. The other exhibition book I have is the “Sprit Stones of China” from the Ian and Susan Wilson collections exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. It is out of print but can be viewed online from the University of California Press webpage.
Several books on Chinese scholar’s rocks by Kemin Hu are still in print, and the latest is a large format book, Spirit Stones The Ancient Art of the Scholar’s Rock, with stunning photographs by Johnathon M. Singer.