This Wednesday, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) wants to bring an understanding to the images of women in Qing Chinese paintings.
The exhibition Beauty Revealed, brings together works of the High Qing period (mid seventeenth to late eighteenth century), all depicting the era’s beautiful women (also known as meiren hua), in an attempt to situate the Qing’s period social and economic contexts. The works depict women in high status, whether members of the court, or in other privileged situations, yet challenges that notion by revisiting the visual codes of the paintings, in order to assert the primarily depictions of the courtesan class.
In the exhibition, BAMPFA will present eight paintings from their own collection, including one that can be previewed on the museum’s website at bampfa.berkeley.edu, titled Woman in a Brothel Being Presented to a Client. Also included are works loaned from other institutions and private collections from around both the U.S. and Europe. All the featured works are organized into sections, each exploring the life of the depicted women within the garden, home, bath, and brothel, while challenging the long preconceptions and intentions of what Chinese painting was perhaps assumed to be, and shed new light on previously unexplored areas of interpretation and use.
Beauty Revealed is on view until December 22nd.