DESCRIPTION: A pair of rare Qing Dynasty (early 1800's) ancestor portraits of miniature size, framed in an archival, off-white silk matt. Both figures are seated on horseshoe back chairs with tiger skin drapes, the husband in a bright blue robe with black silk overcoat, his rank badge displayed on his chest; the wife in a bright orange-red coat, teal colored skirt, and elaborate headdress. Both are well painted with detailed, lifelike features. Portraits of this size are very rare as most ancestor portraits are quite large. These are in excellent condition and would add a beautiful accent to a home displaying Chinese art or antiques. DIMENSIONS: Actual portrait sizes: 9" high (22.9 cm) x 6 7/8" wide 17.5 cm) each. Frame dimensions: 33 1/4" high (84.5 cm) x 15 3/4" wide (40 cm).
CULTURAL BACKGROUND: The Chinese have long had a profound connection to their ancestors. They believe that death does not sever a person’s relationship with the living and that, if properly worshipped and honored in private family rituals, the spirits of their ancestors can bring them health, long life, prosperity and children. In Imperial China, filial sons of all classes, as part of their sacred duty to care for the spirits of their ancestors, paid homage to them in ritual ceremonies. Chinese commemorative portraits, commonly referred to as "ancestor paintings," were painted specifically for use in ancestor worship. Besides being compelling art, the paintings reveal much about Chinese social and cultural history. With the development of photography in the 19th century, the painting of ancestor portraits began to wane.