Painted in a realistic style with neat contours and bright colors, this fan sheet represents two melancholic young women in a palace interior. They are accompanied by a child on the left and a servant in the foreground.
This painting is in the genre of shinü hua, the life of court women, a subject used both in poetry and in painting since the Tang dynasty (618–907). It was a favorite genre of the Qinq court, mainly in the 18th century to be compared to Meiren hua, a very close style of painting, which encompasses representations of beauties more generally. These paintings are visual and historical documents on the interiors of palaces.
The two women are represented in a thoughtful attitude immersed in silent reflection. The scene takes place in a luxurious interior filled with furniture and objects. The walls are open to outdoor landscapes or decorated with paintings.
Even if objects usually associated with scholars (antiques, books, etc.), are frequent on the paintings of women of this time, alluding to the intellectual culture of court women and their refined tastes, here, however, these objects seem to be real imperial objects. The clocks, for example, from Western technology, belonged exclusively to the emperor. In addition, women are dressed in Manchu costumes while in Meiren paintings, women are often represented in older costumes.
The painting is discreetly filled with symbols. The character Shou, painted on the walls symbolizing longevity, the child symbolizing prosperity or the bowl filled with digited citrus is adding a discreet sexual allusion.
The immobility of the characters places them on the same level as the precious objects thus showing the privilege of the emperor having in his possession both the most ideal women and the most opulent material goods.
Pigments on paper with gold highlights, formerly mounted as a fan. Good condition.
23 x 49 cm
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