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Women Chinese Painters from the Qing Dynasty

Chinese fan

The post, Analysis of Early Chinese Painting from the Qing Dynasty, discusses notable artists who made a lasting impression on Chinese painting during the Qing dynasty. Although the majority of these artists were men, a few women Chinese painters were recognized for their work not only by their male contemporary artists, but by nobles and the Qianlong Emperor.

Born into affluent families, these women learned how to paint from their father or grandfather. Their subjects consisted of flowers, birds, trees, and sometimes landscapes. Using highly detailed brushwork, they effected a realistic but very natural look. They painted with ink on paper or silk, using a limited color palette. Fans and hand scrolls also served as a painting surface.

Yun Bing

Yun was a granddaughter of a renowned painter of the period. She and her husband sold their artwork to support themselves. Yun excelled in painting flowers, and her paintings found their way to the Emperor who wrote a poem in praise of her artwork. As a result, her artistic reputation spread even further.

Ma Quan

Like Yun Bing, Ma descended from a family of artists. She painted subjects common to decorative gardens including flowers, insects, birds, and butterflies. She excelled in painting subjects with well defined silhouettes. Her artwork was so well appreciated that she even had students learning from her. It’s sad that she became blind in her later years.

Chen Shu

Chen’s father was an artist, so she began her artistic career at an early age. Her son, Qian Chenqun, became a notable figure in court and he presented his mother’s works to the Emperor. Much of her artwork is still admired today and appears in the in the Palace Museum (Beijing) and the National Palace Museum (Taipei). Qian wrote an extensive biography in which he: ‘…describes his mother’s success in the art world, the cultivation of her talent, and her artistic influence over the next generations of her husband’s family.’

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