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Faces to Remember: Chinese Portraits of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911)

Closing May 4, 2014

Get an up-close look Chinese portraits created during the Ming and Qing dynasties, that come from the renowned collections of the Museum’s Far Eastern section.

Showcasing a culturally important, but often-overlooked aspect of Chinese art and culture, the exhibition’s portraits are astonishing in their detail and embedded symbolism.  The visual appeal of the exhibition’s 25 works – some remarkably large - is enhanced by a number of sartorial and personal accessories, objects carefully selected for their resemblance to those seen in the paintings. 

Faces to Remember showcases traditional Chinese portraiture as well as Western influences on Chinese painting techniques. It also examines Chinese concepts of celebrating memories of the dead; explores the reasons behind the commissioning of portraits; and illuminates the techniques used by painters to meet their clients’ expectations.

These paintings, on paper or silk, portray members from all classes of society during the Ming and Qing regimes.  Scholars, civil officials, elderly men and women, members of the imperial clan, military officers, a mother and two young sons, a father and an adult son, and several members of one family are among the portraits’ subjects. Numerous indicators of the sitter’s social status, including clothing, are evident in each work. While visitors can expect enlightening contextual information about the sitters’ lives, delivering a better understanding and appreciation of the portraits and those depicted in them, little is known of most artists behind the paintings, not even their names.

Staff

Ka Bo Tsang

Research Associate - Retired