Art Worlds

Art Worlds: Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late Nineteenth-Century Shanghai

Roberta Wue
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Art Worlds
    Book Description:

    The growth of Shanghai in the late nineteenth century gave rise to an exciting new art world in which a flourishing market in popular art became a highly visible part of the treaty port’s commercialized culture. Art Worlds examines the relationship between the city’s visual artists and their urban audiences. Through a discussion of images ranging from fashionable painted fans to lithograph-illustrated magazines, the book explores how popular art intersected with broader cultural trends. It also investigates the multiple roles played by the modern Chinese artist as image-maker, entrepreneur, celebrity, and urban sojourner. Focusing on industrially produced images, mass advertisements, and other hitherto neglected sources, the book offers a new interpretation of late Qing visual culture at a watershed moment in the history of modern Chinese art. Art Worlds will be of interest to scholars of art history and to anyone with an interest in the cultural history of modern China.

    eISBN: 978-988-8313-28-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    A group portrait by the Shanghai artist, Ren Bonian (also called Ren Yi, 1840–1895), titledSanyou tuorPicture of Three Friends, shows three men, including the artist, united in friendship (Figure i.1). Seated cozily in a small circle on the floor, Ren Bonian together with Zeng Fengji in the middle and Zhu Jintang to the right are shown deep in conversation and appear to look up upon the arrival of a newcomer. Their gathering is demonstrably a gentlemanly one: each turned to the other, their intimate communion is suggested not only by their physical proximity and similarity in...

  6. Chapter One The Shanghai Painted Fan: Form, Format, and Function
    (pp. 25-70)

    A fan painting by the late Qing Shanghai painter Ren Bonian (1840–1895) is a small delight. The subject is a simple one: a small bird flits into view and seems about to land on a horizontal tree branch bearing multiple peach blossoms (Figure 1.1). Dating to the 1870s, this little work is one of any number of fan paintings produced by Ren Bonian at this period in his career. With its bright colors and golden ground, appealing subject and animated handling, the painting presents a charming scene, an idealized and lively vision of springtime. It is highly typical of...

  7. Chapter Two The Shanghai Artist in Advertising and Mass Media
    (pp. 71-108)

    An advertisement placed inShenbaoin 1880 by Zhang Xiong is useful for suggesting the parameters within which the Shanghai artist could operate:

    Announcing the Opening of Zhangzhidaotang [Hall of Zhang Attaining the Dao] on Si Malu [Fuzhou Road]: This store was originally founded in the middle of the Daoguang era [1821–1850] in Jiading . . . [selling] fine manufactured and purified pigments, medicinal spirits for rheumatism, gynecological pills and powders, efficacious cures for opium addiction, all made according to secret formulae . . . [and] long famous near and wide. Since the military disaster, I have sojourned in Shanghai...

  8. Chapter Three Shanghai Illustrations: Images and Readers
    (pp. 109-158)

    In view of the importance of the artist’s representation in this period, whether verbal, textual, or pictorial, it is only appropriate that a portrait of the author is the first image to appear in Chen Yunsheng’s 1876 book,Renzhai huasheng(Renzhai’s painting legacy) (Figure 3.1). Chen’s portrait appears at a crucial point—at the end of the prefaces and just before the book’s many illustrations—and, like a genial host, the picture introduces readers to the book proper and its maker as he wished to be seen. Chen Yunsheng (also called Chen Renzhai, 1820–1884), a Ningbo native sojourning in...

  9. Chapter Four Picturing the Shanghai Artist: Subjects and Audiences
    (pp. 159-214)

    A portrait by Ren Bonian of his father is unusual in its depiction of a close relative and a deceased subject (Figure 4.1). Dating to 1869, the painting shows Ren Songyun (also known as Ren Hesheng) in a natural setting; dressed as a scholar, he is quietly seated leaning against a large rock overlooking a rushing stream. The landscape around him—he is ringed by cliffs, trees, rocks, and water—appears remote and untouched, resembling not so much the gentleman’s garden as the haunts of hermits. Though the portrait may thus flatter the sitter with allusions to the culturally prestigious...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 215-220)

    The entwined ideas of artist, image, and audience are effectively embodied by an 1887 portrait by Ren Bonian of Jin Erzhen (1840–1917), also known as Jin Jishi (Figure e. 1). A prominent calligrapher in this period, Jin Erzhen regularly appeared on the lists of Shanghai’s famous artists.¹ Provocatively titledPicture of Mr. Jishi Admiring and Regarding Himself with Affection, the portrait shows Jin as portly and prosperous in appearance, standing alertly next to a large garden rock. Initial inspection would suggest that the terms of the picture are the usual ones of the scholar’s portrait: the sitter cuts a...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 221-250)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 251-256)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-278)
  14. Index
    (pp. 279-292)