Images des femmes dans la peinture chinoise des Qing
UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents Beauty Revealed: Images of Women in Qing Dynasty Chinese PaintingSubmitted by Editor on September 26, 2013 – 10:31 am
The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents Beauty Revealed: Images of Women in Qing Dynasty Chinese Painting, an exhibition on view September 25 through December 22, 2013.
Hua Xuan (active second quarter 18th century) 1736; framed panel painting, ink and colors on silk; 56 x 131 x 2 in.; private collection. Photo: David Stansbury.
Featuring nearly thirty works, this exhibition is the first to bring together a genre of Chinese painting known as meiren hua, or paintings of beautiful women. Situating the works within the social and economic contexts of the High Qing period (mid-seventeenth to the late eighteenth century), the exhibition challenges the prevailing opinion that these subjects are high status women—either members of the court or other privileged women. By reading the visual codes embedded in the images, Beauty Revealed instead makes the case that these women are courtesans.
Borrowing seldom-before-utilized techniques from the West, including one-point perspective and heavy opaque colors, the artists, many of them unknown professional painters who painted on demand and for a fee, pursue a realism not previously seen in Chinese painting. Rather than the willowy beauty shown in a garden setting or surrounded by family among luxurious furnishings typical of earlier periods, these paintings generally feature a single, near life-size figure, often in a brazenly unladylike posture. Their garments tend to be low cut and transparent, and their bound feet exposed. For example, the direct gaze of the woman in Putting out the Lamp, addressed to the (presumably male) intended viewer, offers a suggestive undercurrent of greater intimacy, one of the hallmarks of this genre. Other codes of accessibility include the woman’s relaxed posture with right leg drawn up under left, the open sleeves that reveal her arms, and the highly stylized extension of her right hand in a controlled gesture reaching to snuff out the light. Her expression engages the audience in a way never before seen in Chinese figure painting.