Debated painting inspires modern musical

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For years, a debate has raged over whether an 18th-century ink-water landscape depicts Tongzhou, a district in southeastern Beijing which used to be the northern terminal of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, or whether it depicts a bustling port scene of Tianjin, also a major port along the waterway.

Researchers at the National Museum of China, where the landscape is now part of the collection, have concluded that it portrays court officials supervising the transportation on a section of the Luhe River that runs across Tongzhou.

Titled Luhe Duyun Tu (A Scroll of Transportation Supervision along Luhe), the painting has inspired modern-day artists to create a musical romance which will be staged in Beijing between June 28 and 30.

The production called Tiandi Yunhe Qing (A Romance on the Grand Canal) will be performed by artists from Beijing Contemporary Music Academy and explores the family dramas of an eminent 18th century painter and his romance with a courtesan.

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