Painting of beauty with fishbowl and hourglass - 2020.49.1


Painting of beauty with fishbowl and hourglass

Medium:ink and colors on silk, framed
Geography: China
Date: 18th Century
Period: Qing Dynasty
Ht. 191 x Wt. 64.5 cm. (75.2 x 25.4 in.)
Object number: 2020.49.1
Credit Line: Generously supported by the R.H. Ellsworth Fund
Not on view

The standing female figure rests her forearms on the rim of an oversized glass bowl containing brightly-colored carp and white carp. Carp are a common auspicious motif in Chinese painting. However, the large glass fishbowl is not typically seen. Glassmaking was established in the imperial glass workshop under the influence of European technology. The lady’s coiffure, especially the scalloped hairline framing her forehead, is non-Chinese. Her hair ornaments, consisting of a peony flower, and a metallic hair pin with a phoenix head at one end, from which dangles elaborate chains of beads and medallions, are more typical of Chinese hair accessories.  Her earrings are in a Chinese style similar to the elaborate hair ornaments.

She is dressed in flowing robes of varying colors, with the upper sleeves of her green outer jacket pinned with brooches having a blue stone at their centers. This way of dressing is also non-Chinese, as is the low rounded neckline exposing more of her upper chest than would be seen in a typical depiction of a Chinese woman, wherein the robes are typically more tightly closed around the neck. Above her head rests a European hourglass on a window sill, next to which is a curious object that looks like half of an oliphant that has been split lengthwise. Inside this split oliphant is a European-style seated angel.

Elongated architectural elements suggest a building with very high-ceilinged rooms and a pavilion in the background, and there is a tall leafy plant to the right of the female figure.

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