China: 1664 -1911. A pair of richly colored, highly decorative Chinese ancestor portraits, depicting an official of the court of the Qing dynasty (1664-1911) and his wife, each seated on chairs draped in silk, and wearing embroidered multicolored robes highlighted in silver and gilt. The portraits are still and dignified, the subjects gazing calmly out from the highly formal settings.
The woman is dressed in a red dragon patterned robe, with blue green headdress ornamented with hanging strings of pearls and jade beads. Her husband, the court official, is dressed in a dark blue surcoat trimmed in white fur (likely his winter court dress), a ceremonial collar, and a long necklace. At the feet of each are carved wooden stools.
These commemorative portraits were commissioned by families to call forth the presence of the deceased ancestors in religious ceremonies. The portraits allowed the family to ask for blessings from their ancestors and also revealed the status of the individual in society. The costumes were painted with great care because the design elements of each garment revealed the rank of the official. The costumes are painted in layers of thick color, contrasting with the thinner application of paint for the faces.
Watercolor and gouache on silk with thin strips of silk brocade at the top and bottom, the outermost borders of pale moire silk. A few faint areas of toning in a few areas of the undecorated background of the woman's portrait; a bit of toning along the extreme right edge of the undecorated background of the man's portrait. The images approximately 16 1/2 x 26", in gilt and silver decorated wood frames, 21 1/2 x 30 1/2" Very good condition. Item #21775