Everything about China is huge. It is a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and scents. We love the colourful history of China and our eyes are often drawn to Chinese antiques, sourcing pieces that are made with great craftsmanship. This pair of ancestor paintings is no exception. There is something mesmerising about this couple and it's not just on account of the calming colour palette the artist chose. There is a kindness and depth of connection between the husband and wife, if you look closely you will see their smiling eyes.
“Ancestor paintings” were painted on paper or silk specifically for use in ancestor worship and it was believed the power of the living person resided in their portrait after dead. They almost always depicted their subjects in a nearly life-size frontal pose, often seated in some sort of throne with a tiger skin or beautiful carpet at their feet. Generally, they would be wearing formal gowns with insignia that proclaimed their rank and status.
The only differences are gender-related. Woman´s feet, considered a most erotic part of the female body, were always hidden; and more often than not the woman's hands with her long fingernails were hidden as well. Although the costume worn by the ancestor could indicate court status and social position, the most important part of the portrait was the face. All ancestors were painted with virtually the same expression – a symbolically calm and detached look – to suggest a sort of objective, otherworldly status.
Chinese ancestor portraits came into fashion during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Before the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, ancestor paintings were rarely available for purchase or exhibited publicly. Most remained in the hands of family members, and the old tradition was later replaced by the authenticity and exactness of photography. Today, these paintings are recognized as a unique Chinese art form, highly sought after by collectors.
These examples are gouache on fabric and framed.
PLACE OF ORIGIN: China
DATE OF MANUFACTURE: 19th Century
PERIOD: 19th Century
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Painted Fabric
CONDITION: Very good
CONDITION DETAILS: Age appropriate wear
WEAR: Wear consistent with age and use.
H 31.69 in. x W 19.5 in. x D 1.22 in.
H 80.5 cm x W 49.5 cm x D 3.1 cm
These Framed Chinese Ancestor (Matriarch and Patriarch) fabric paintings are perfect for a living room, office or bedroom. The background colour is light ocher with detail in blues, greens, oranges, and blacks. The matte finish paint and colours are rich and bold with a slightly masculine appeal. The frame is wood, finished in black paint with a subtle gold strand running through it. The paintings are sold as a pair.
NOTE: Some fading and crease lines present, consistent with age. There is a slight warp in one of the frames but is not really noticeable once hung.
We love collecting pieces that are rich with historical references so we are thrilled to offer these to you.
Kimberley and Georgina xx