- Museum number
Portrait painting, ink and colour on paper; mounted as a hanging scroll. Woman seated with a child (perhaps grandson) in her lap, in front of statue of the god Kui Xing. Two female attendants serving tea. The room has an unusual screen in the background that reads like a giant scroll or roll of cloth. Another room visible through a window to the side.
- Production date
- 1900-1920 (circa)
Height: 148 centimetres (image)
Height: 242 centimetres (mount inc. hanging cord)
Width: 82 centimetres (image)
Width: 112.50 centimetres (mount inc. rollers)
- Curator's comments
- This is one of four portrait paintings (2014,3033.1 to 4) executed in a traditional style that was popular in late imperial times in China that reflects cultural values and practices of family veneration, which were collected and donated to the British Museum by Chang Chien-shyng, who was interested in documenting customs at the turn of the twentieth century.
This painting fits into the genre of so-called "ancestor portraits" that were created for family use to commemorate recently deceased forebears and previous generations. It is painted in a manner and at a time (around the end of the Qing dynasty-early Republic period) when such portraits sometimes also had limited circulation during an individual’s lifetime; the demarcation between ritual ancestor portraits and lifetime commemorative portraits was not always rigid or clear. It is sometimes impossible for works in this school of portraiture to be certain whether or not they were only used posthumously.
The image of Kui Xing - a figure associated with literary success - indicates that the family is associating itself with the tradition of the educated elite. The window seen to the side through which another room is glimpsed reflects a style of painting that ultimately developed out of Chinese interest in Western-style paintings of interiors with scenes glimpsed through windows. By circa 1900 it was a rather stock way of representing interiors and suggesting progression layers of physical space.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Ch.Ptg.Add.806