Portrait of Father Ruifeng

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, Guangxu reign, ca. 1890
Oil pigment on silk
H x W (painting): 123.4 x 67.8 cm (48 9/16 x 26 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

carpet, China, Guangxu reign (1875 - 1908), man, noble, portrait, Pritzlaff collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

According to the inscription, this ancestor portrait was commissioned by the man's son, Qinglin. The use of oil paint, the high-contrast modeling of the face, and highlights on the garment folds show extensive influence from photography and Western artistic styles. The smooth, shiny effect of Western oil paints applied on silk resembles the surface of late nineteenth-century photographs, which may explain why oil paints competed in popularity with ink and color for portraits. The awkward truncation of the lower half of Ruifeng's body and the rather cramped proportions of the painting suggest this was a modest commission, which belies the high status expected for someone wearing such a luxurious fur surcoat.

This portrait was likely painted in a commercial workshop and is another example of how aggrandizing props were used in many ancestor portraits created for commoners and low-level officials. A portrait of his wife is in the Sackler's collection (see S1991.137).

Published References
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 171, fig. 7.5.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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