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Late 19th Cetury Chinese Ancestor Painting of a Court Gentleman

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A Chinese ancestor painting on paper, laid to board. Unsigned.


Visible browning and surface discolouration to the substrate. Surface losses and wear along the left side, and one area of surface abrasion to the top section. General wear and surface ageing present overall.


73.5 x 52cm (28.9" x 20.5")

Collection Information

The Chinese have long had a profound connection to their ancestors. They believe, and continue to believe, that death does not sever a person’s relationship with the living and that, if properly worshipped and honored in private family rituals, the spirits of their ancestors can bring them health, long life, prosperity and children, who will someday similarly honor their parents. In Imperial China, filial sons of all classes, as part of their sacred family duty to care for the spirits of their deceased ancestors, paid homage to their ancestors in ritual ceremonies in which they placed food offerings before the portrait scrolls of their forebears. Chinese commemorative portraits, commonly referred to as "ancestor paintings," were painted specifically for use in ancestor worship; the power of the living person was believed to reside in their portrait after death. Most of the ancestor portraits that have survived depict members of the Qing (pronounced “Ch’ing”) imperial families and military and civil elite who ruled China from 1644 until the revolution of 1911. The ancestors were almost always depicted nearly live-size in a frontal pose, usually seated in an elaborately carved chair draped in brocade or fur, with a lavish carpet at their feet. All of the ancestors wore semi formal winter gowns or fur-trimmed robes with elaborate insignia that proclaimed their rank or princely status.

More Information
Code ps626
Date Late 19th Century
Dimensions 73.5 x 52cm
Framed No
Medium Gouache
Style Asian
Subject Portrait
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