Momoyama Gallery 0
Chinese Painting

Rare 19th century Chinese Ancestor Portrait

           painted on linen        

    2.500 $




For sale is this rare 19th. century ancestor portrait of an important gentleman. It is exquisitily painted with oil colours on linen.

The colours are still vivid and shiny, and the paint cracks intensify the antique aura. It is very valuable.

The Size is 99 cm x 51 cm (38,98'' x 20,08''). It is not framed and will be safely shipped in tube.

Chinese ancestor portraits most often were commissioned by a direct descendant, usually the oldest son, and the portraits were frequently painted posthumously. Often, the deceased's facial features were modelled by an artist who asked the relatives to study a book of sketches of faces. The painter copied a nose from one face, eyes from another and so forth based on instructions from the family. In the end, faces compiled this way are indistinguishable from those painted from life.

Occasionally, the artist visited the subject on his or her death bed and rarely the subject sat for the portrait near the end of life. The Chinese believed that they could communicate with the spirit of the ancestor by hanging his or her portrait, by performing a kowtow (kneeling and knocking one's head on the floor) before it, and by burning incense and placing candles, flowers, food and wine on an altar in front of the portrait. Family members thought that they would be granted happiness, health and many sons in their own lives by honouring and caring for their ancestors' spirits.

Arguably, a portrait is not an "ancestor" portrait unless it was actually made for, and used in, ritual worship. However, seldom will purpose and usage be known, so a painting is classified as an ancestor portrait if it includes certain elements. The identifying features in ancestor portraits of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) are a person facing directly forward with a solemn expression on his or her face and, typically, in the case of upper class portraits, the subject clasps one of the beads of a court necklace.

The person is usually seated on a chair with a rounded back (a shape of chair that indicates status or honour) and the furniture is often covered by a patterned silk cloth or a tiger's skin. The sitter is wearing a costume that identifies his or her rank. Sometimes there is a carpet on the floor. The painted subjects mostly wear their highest ranking costume, either a chaofu or court robe, which is the most formal and highest rank of court dress, or a fiufu (which translates as "surcoat with a patch") with a rank badge (the patch) usually worn over a jifu ("festive dress", commonly known as a dragon robe). Sometimes the pufu is worn over a chaofu.



Antique chinese hanging scroll "Dusk Scenery"

                (17th./18th cent.)              

900 $




The scroll painting is the most common and recognizable form of Chinese paintings. Arranged typically from top to bottom and with more length than width, they mimic the way in which the Chinese language is read- directing the eye from the top right to the bottom left. Often times, the object of the scroll painting is located at the bottom as this is the area where the trained Chinese eye would observe last. The context of the painting is set at the top while the setting is conveyed from the top to the bottom, with the main object at the bottom.


The scroll painting evolved from simple scrolls of written prose including poems, short stories and Buddhist prayers. The practice of accompanying these writings with artistic depictions had been perfected by the scholar, official and aristocratic classes, who possessed the leisure time to devote to the technique and sensibility necessary for great brushwork.

It is believed that the desire to have paintings in scroll form arose from the seasonal nature of Chinese artwork. Because paintings usually followed a seasonal theme, a painting depicting the winter season could not be left on the wall year round, so the owner often would rotate the artwork so as to keep balance with the season and the subject of the art.

Texts and prayers that accompanied these paintings were often seasonally based as well, such as stories involving the autumn harvest or prayers for a floodless spring.

With the advent of the scroll, the rotation and storage of the 'off- season' artwork became easier.

This offered painting dates from the early or the mid Qing-Dynasty around the 17th. and 18th. century. It was impossible to identify the artist, but it is obvious that he was a great painter of his time. The colours are still strong and vivid, and it is a real joy to notice the impressing details of the amazing dusk scenery.


Signature and seal: anonymous

Scroll end: wood

Technique: handpainted on paper

Size: 74,8 x 149,3 cm / 29,4'' x 58,7''





Copyright © Momoyama Gallery - All Rights Reserved