Female painters in late imperial era

Fang Weiyi

Updated: Mar 5, 2020 Print
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A native of East China’s Anhui province, Fang Weiyi (1585-1668), was born in the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and died in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).She was a gifted woman who lived a long life. Born into an family of intellectuals, she had access to the family’s collection of literature and art, and developed a refined artistic taste. Her elder sister, younger brother, and cousin all had an aptitude for painting and poetry. The cousins often discussed and studied painting techniques and poetry together.

Despite her well-off origins, Fang did not live a rosy life. She was married to a seriously ill fellow townsman at the age of 17. After her husband’s death, the 18-year-old widow gave birth to a baby girl, who lived for just nine months before dying. Her unfortunate family life and the turbulent situation caused by the replacement of the Ming Empire by the Qing Empire were tremendous influences on her artistic and literary career.

Painting depicting arhats, lake rock, and banana leaves by Fang Weiyi at the age of 77 [Photo/]

Arhats Sitting on a Rock under Banana Leaves
Dated 1662
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 65×29.3 cm
Collection of the Palace Museum
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Detail of Fang Wenyi’s portrait of the Avalokitesvara, or ‘Guanyin’ [Photo/]

Portrait of Avalokitesvara (Guanyin)
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
Collection of the Palace Museum
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