Chinese Ancestor Portrait
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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Paintings: Pre 1920: item # 710109
Please refer to our stock # 60-57 when inquiring.
Silk Road Gallery
PO Box 2175
Branford, Connecticut 06405, USA
|This large hanging scroll with a painting of a Chinese civil official and his wife could be called minimalist within the genre of Chinese ancestor portraits. It is executed in the classic ancestral portrait style, with the subjects facing directly forward, seated on a chair with a rounded back and footrest, the man with hands and shoes showing and the woman with her robe completely covering hands and feet. The difference between this and many other ancestor images is in spareness of decorative elements associated with the couple. Both are dressed in relatively conservative robes. The woman's headpiece, in particular, is understated, with none of the usual jewels, gold and feathers. They are shown against a plain background. The effect is to emphasize the large blocks of color in the painting, giving the piece a modern look that can be "read" at a distance. To the families who commissioned these portraits, the faces were of much greater importance than the props because they wanted to make sure their prayers reached their own ancestor, not the ancestor of someone else. The secondary elements often were painted beforehand, sometimes with stencils, and the faces added when the work was commissioned. This portrait shows evidence on the back that stencils were used. The badges worn by this couple indicate a civil rank although these did not always accurately reflect true rank, sometimes elevating it several levels for posterity. This painting is from the late Qing period, probably the last years of the dynasty nearing 1912. It is on rice paper mounted on silk, and is in good condition. Framing would be appropriate; large margins top and bottom would allow for adjustment in length. Dimensions of scroll: height 75" (190 cm), width 43" (109 cm). Dimensions of rice paper: height 58" (147 cm), width 38" (97 cm). Height of painted figures: 44" (112 cm).|