Chinese (19th c.)
Album of Sketches
Gift of William Bingham II from the Peterson Collection
The mounting of a Chinese painting, whether as a hanging scroll, a handscroll or an album, manipulates the viewer’s experience of the artwork. Li Yinzhao’s charming figural images were unfortunately painted on acidic paper, and the mounting has caused further damage to the album. For conservation purposes the original cannot be displayed, but this reproduction permits the kind of intimate experience the artist envisioned.
Gently pick up this album and examine the cover. What clues does it provide? What information does it hide? Then, keeping the album supported on the shelf, gently turn the pages by sliding your finger underneath each image and turning the bottom left-hand corner. Remember that a Chinese album is turned from left to right. This album has an accordion-structure, and each page is affixed to the other by a pine-needle hinge.
Introductory pages use silver-flecked paper and heighten your anticipation. These are followed by images of Daoist sages, playful children, and other characters. Tonal variety and vigorous lines enliven the spare but engaging compositions. As you leaf through this album, contemplate how this choice of mounting constructs your reading of its narrative.
Anna Kosovsky, Bowdoin ’08