Female painters in late imperial era

Zhou Shuxi

Updated: Mar 5, 2020 Print
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Zhou Shuxi, also known as Zhou Xi, was a famous female painter who lived from the late Ming (1368-1644) to the early Qing dynasties (1644-1911). Born into a wealthy family in Jiangyin in East China’s Jiangsu province, she began to learn calligraphy and painting from her father during her childhood. Her father, Zhou Rongqi, was a multi-talented artist renowned for his landscape works portraying the misty scenery of South China’s Yangtze River Delta. As well as her father, Zhou Shuxi also learned painting skills from Wen Chu (1595-1634), daughter of the celebrated painter Wen Congjian.

Zhou had a good reputation for bird-and-flower paintings. The strong cultural atmosphere in her family, the influence of the elite’s painting style and solid technical skills laid a firm foundation for her superb work in this field.

Fan face depicting flowers and birds by Zhou Shuxi [Photo/]
One of the screens depicting flowers and fruits by Zhou Shuxi and her younger sister Zhou Shuhu [Photo/]

Painting of Flowers and Fruits
Qing Dynasty
Screen of four pieces, ink and color on silk, 21.4×19.2 cm
Collection of the Palace Museum
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Zhou Shuxi and Zhou Shuhu were the first and second daughters of Zhou Rongqi. These four screens depicting flowers and fruits were created by them cooperatively. They depict, respectively, mandarin oranges, kiwi fruits, loquats and persimmons. Each of the screens contains a textual introduction to its subject, two of which are inscribed with the biographies of the painters by collectors. Since very few works by the Zhou sisters survived, this cooperative one is extremely precious.


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