To portray the fair lady is one special motif of figure painting in ancient China, and became an independent branch no later than mid-Tang dynasty. Renowned painters in this respect in the Tang dynasty included Zhou Fang and Zhang Xuan. This kind of painting had become quite popular since the Song dynasty and many were passed down through generations. It reached its peak in the Ming and Qing dynasty. For instance, A Dream of Red Mansion, one of the four most important classical novels in Chinese history, depicts twelve ladies with a painting for each and implicates their life course. Apart from natural objects, the images of fair ladies were often used to present their life directly, which also shows how popular this motif was.
This exhibition has selected high-quality fair lady paintings from mid-Qing dynasty to modern times. The artists include famous ones such as Fei Danxu, Gai Qi, etc. and also some lesser-known but rarely-seen ones. The composition of the painting is varied with garden, chamber, greens, mountain designs and plants like plum blossoms and willow. Ladies are doing different activities including playing the vertical flute, practicing calligraphy or painting, having fun, doing embroidery, etc. The paintings are in ink or color or other skills, in forms of hanging scrolls, handscrolls, fans and album leaves, with focus on delicate description and elegant style. This exhibition will provide visitors with access to the beauty of Jiangnan area in the Ming and Qing dynasty.