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Women in Chinese Painting

November 9, 2013–April 27, 2014
Freer Gallery of Art

In the Confucian ideology that pervaded traditional Chinese society for more than two thousand years, women did not determine the course of their own lives. In most regards, they were subservient to and dependent on the male members of their families. Despite these strictures, women played a critical role in creating and sustaining the economic and cultural fabric of Chinese society. Illustrating some of the active roles played by women in traditional Chinese society, the thirty works in this exhibition introduce goddesses, court ladies, empresses, silk makers, entertainers, courtesans, literary heroines, military figures, and the only woman to rule China as emperor. Also examining the role of women in the art world, a number of the paintings showcase the accomplishments of female artists.


Please note: The Freer Gallery of Art will be closed to the public from January 2016 until summer 2017. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Library, and Archives will remain open for the duration of the renovation. Learn more »