Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties

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Lot 46
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884)
Twelve Beauties

Sold for US$ 300,312 inc. premium
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ROSALIND CHING PASTOR
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884)
Twelve Beauties
Ink and color on paper, mounted, framed and glazed, bearing two seals reading Zhenran and shi Lianxi hua yin.
45 x 90in (114.3 x 228.6cm) sight

Footnotes

  • Published and exhibited
    Masterworks of Chinese Art. The Rosalind Ching Pastor Collection. Catalogue of an exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, July 28 - Sept 25, 2005. Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2005, p. 66-67.

    On loan
    The Art Institute of Chicago, 1996-2003.

    Note
    The artist's portrayal of the twelve women in this painting appears to refer to specific characters in Cao Xueqin's novel Hong Lou Meng 紅樓夢 (Dream of the Red Chamber), possibly the "Twelve Beauties of Jinling" 金陵十二釵. For example, the beauty at the far left holds a gold qilin, referencing the character Shi Xiangyun 史湘雲 who was given a gold qilin by the novel's protagonist Jia Baoyu 賈寶玉. The beauty to her immediate right sports a gold "lock" plaque 金鎖, referencing Xue Baochai 薛寶釵 who famously wore such a plaque. Further, the fifth figure from the left wears a nun's robes and fingers a duster, referencing the beauteous Buddhist nun Miaoyu 妙玉 who resided in the Grand View Garden with the other women and Jia Baoyu, and the first figure in the foreground on the right delicately holds an orchid blossom in her hand, referencing the melancholic Lin Daiyu 林黛玉 who buried fallen blossoms in two scenes in the novel.

    In his discussion of 17th-18th century vernacular paintings made by professional artists for wealthy patrons, James Cahill suggested that large-sized paintings of multiple figures (of women) such as the present lot were likely intended for public display in restaurants, wine shops, or even brothels, and often depicted courtesans (James Cahill, Pictures for Use and Pleasure: Vernacular Painting in High Qing China, University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2010, p. 152-3). While unsigned, this painting bears a seal reading Zhenran. An accomplished painter of traditional scholarly subjects such as landscape, flowers, and religious figures, the monk Zhenran (1816-1884) was nonetheless obliged to paint for his livelihood, and was known to have been disparaged by connoisseurs for painting according to the fashion of the day. Perhaps the present lot was painted to fulfill a special commission for an image of a large group of beautiful women that, by association with characters in the beloved novel Hong Lou Meng, was elevated beyond conventional meiren paintings on public display.

    (傳)釋 真然 金陵十二釵 設色紙本 鏡框

    鈐印:真然、釋蓮溪畫印
Contacts
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
Attributed to Zhenran (1816-1884) Twelve Beauties
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