Portrait of a Manchu Official
Bequest of Charles Potter Kling
This hanging scroll is a typical example of Chinese ancestor portraiture, placing the sitter in a rigidly frontal pose. His facial features are striking and betray Western techniques, which had been introduced and popularized in Chinese painting by the mid-eighteenth century. But, the elaborate and exquisitely painted patterns of his costume and furniture contradict the realism of his face, resulting in a painting that minimizes individual personality in favor of categorization by rank and class. The trappings that threaten to overwhelm visually are useful, however, for identifying the sitter as a fourth-rank civil official in the Qing Dynasty government.
Erica McLeod, Bowdoin ’08