Huang Yuanjie | govt.chinadaily.com.cn

Female painters in late imperial era

Huang Yuanjie

Updated: Mar 5, 2020 govt.chinadaily.com.cn Print

Of the relatively few female landscape painters throughout the history of imperial China, Huang Yuanjie (active in the mid 17th century) has received the most favorable press for her artistic achievements.

Born into a Confucian family with a fairly good education, she showed talent in painting at an early age. Unfortunately her family declined as the Ming Empire (1368-1644) collapsed. After marriage she even sold landscape paintings for a living.

Following the simple and austere style of Yuan Dynasty (1272-1368) painting master Ni Zan (1301-71) and advocating the cultural temperament and interest of Ming Dynasty master painter Dong Qichang (1555-1636), she painted sparse landscapes, always leaving a large area of the paper untouched. Her brush lines are smooth but strong, and her coloration is always saturated with pale ochre.

To escape the chaotic wars of the very last days of the Ming Dynasty, Huang and her husband left their home, wandering in nearby areas in the Jiangnan region but never settling down. Paradoxically, frequent migration provided rare opportunities for her to feel and observe nature, an experience that other women could hardly imagine or attain in feudal China. Her landscape painting techniques were thus honed.

Fan face painted by Huang Yuanjie [Photo/dpm.org.cn]

Landscape
Fan face, ink on golden paper, 16.2×51.2 cm
Collection of the Palace Museum
View high-resolution image: www.dpm.org.cn/collection/paint/234053.html

Fan face painted by Huang Yuanjie [Photo/dpm.org.cn]

Landscape
Fan face, ink on golden paper, 16.2×50.5 cm
Collection of the Palace Museum
View high-resolution image: www.dpm.org.cn/collection/paint/234052.html



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