CLP 29: 1998 "The Beauty's Face in Later Chinese Painting." Lecture at Univ. of Chicago

The Beauty's Face in Later Chinese Painting (James Cahill lecture, April 23, 1998, Chicago.)

Intro. Happy to be speaking on eve of symposium. Hope, however, that no one has come in expectation of something really methodologically ambitious, something that aims at laying out issues and state-of-field proposals abt this topic, to be developed in two days that follow. This will be, like my whole approach, somewhat old-fashioned, theoretically low-powered--not at all, in this respect, on level of some, at least, of papers we will be hearing during next two days. In fact, kind of lecture that could almost dispense with words altogether. Old art historians, of generation before mine, for whom style and imagery and visual aspects of work of art were primary objects of concern, were drawn to idea of delivering a wordless lecture (my teacher Max Loehr talked of this): assembling slides, juxtaposing them in right way, letting them and their relationships speak for themselves. Even thinking about such a lecture betrays a faith in power of images to speak for themselves, at least collectively. But unrealizable, in my experience--we always need, in the end, to talk, however superfluously. Please understand, though, that principal attraction of my talk will be great series of slides that I've assembled over some years of working on representations of women in late Ch. ptg. I hope that these, and the few relatively simple things I have to say about them, will serve to point others in fruitful directions for more focused investigations.

SS. (Details from Ch'iu Ying, Ku Hung-chung paintings) One of familiar truths abt Chinese ptgs is that while the faces of men in them are permitted to exhibit particular traits that give the effect, at least, of revealing indiv. character, women's faces are simply depicted according to some type of beauty, and within a given period and school of indiv. style are more or less uniform, indistinguishable. But, like most familiar truths, this one has its limits, isn't universally applicable. The kinds of ptg about which we make this point are works such as these: Ku Hung-chung, Ch'iu Ying,

S -- The faces will of course differ by period, and according to individual style--as Ch'iu Ying's differ from his contemporary T'ang Yin's (his "Beauties of Shu") in ways that any good connoisseur can define. Within a particular period and school and individual style, however, they tend to be more or less uniform. But not always. What I want to do today is explore briefly the exceptions, types of differentiation in depictions of women's faces, concentrating on the 17th and 18th centuries, the period of my current interest. First, I will look briefly into the phenomenon of how the somewhat blurred and permeable line that divides portraits of women from generic pictures of beautiful women permits crossovers, both real and fictional. I will also argue that there is a period from late Ming through mid-18th century or so--which is the period in which most interesting ptgs of women are done, the ones on which my study concentrates--when even the generic depictions of beautiful women, the genre called in Chinese mei-jen hua, exhibit subtle but significant differentiations, nuances that can signify or at least suggest distinctions of mood, situation, social class., and so forth It is true that the social identities and roles of the mei-jen depicted are usually left largely unspecified, so as to leave more room for the construction of male fantasies around them. But mostly they can be thought of as belonging to the broad class of concubines and courtesans, who in this period could be presented in literature and painting as objects of romantic love and sexual desire, as proper wives ordinarily weren't. (Exceptions, of course.) And the possibility of romantic encounters and liaisons is exactly what most of the pictures are meant to conjure up.

,S. When the period of my main concern is over, that is by late 18th-early 19c, what remains are the familiar winsome, simpering beauties that any traditional Chinese painting specialist or collector will immediately think of if you say shih-nü hua, the all-embracing term for pictures of women. (Fei Tan-hsü 1821, Ku Lo a bit later.) When I tell them I am interested in late-period pictures of beautiful women, I sometimes have to spend the next hour looking at these, without much enthusiasm. This is another category that my talk tonight, like my larger study, will mostly leave out as relatively uninteresting. They are the "respectable" side of beautiful-women painting--decorous, associated with particular name-artists--where the ones I will show are mostly not respectable objects for collecting.

S,S. (Details from Sou-shan t'u scroll). In narrative painting of all periods, the roles and situations of the women may sometimes require that the artist alter their usually impassive expressions, as here in the Sou-shan t'u (Clearing Out the Mountain) scenes in which the demon-women are attacked by fierce birds and beasts. (Details from the late Sung example in the Palace Museum, Beijing.) But these are special cases, exceptions that lie somewhat outside our subject.

S,S. Turning to one of our central problems, the ambiguities or cross-genre slippages that permitted portraits to be read as mei-jen and vice-versa, we can begin by noting several cases in which generic beautiful-woman pictures have been misrepresented as portraits of particular women--the well-known example at the right furnished with an interpolated inscription claiming it as a portrait of Liu Ju-shih, the courtesan-poet of the Ming-Qing transition; the one at left, in the British Museum, cataloged and published as "Portrait of a Lady." These are deceptions fairly easy to detect--the settings and postures and attributes of the figures belong to the conventions of mei-jen, chosen to present them as sexually inviting and accessible, and are quite unsuitable for portraits, even of women who had emerged, as Liu Ju-shih had, from the world of the bordellos. (The setting of the so-called Liu Ju-shih portrait has been cut away, but can be reconstructed from another version of the composition, known through an old publication.) These indicators of accessibility would not have been tolerated, I have argued, in their portraits by the subjects themselves. The pictures have in fact been "upgraded," that is to say falsified, in later times by dealers or other owners to make them more respectable and saleable.

S,S. In a similar way, a set of twelve paintings of beautiful palace ladies in their chambers, done as panels of a screen in the late K'ang-hsi period, were misidentified as portraits of the "Twelve Consorts of the Yung-cheng Emperor" and published and exhibited as that, until their true character was clarified through the discovery of a document revealing their true origin.

S,S. (Faces of "Liu Ju-shih," BM ptg.) I would like to be able to say, then, that distinguishing portraits from pin-ups presents no real problem, if only one understands the codes of signification for the two genres that were familiar to the artists and their audiences. And for these examples, that should be true, I think. But the matter is not so simple. The very fact that the deceptions went undetected for so long testifies, at least, that the codes had been largely forgotten by the time the pictures were transformed, moved from an uncollectible category to a collectible one.

Recent writings by Judith Zeitlin have presented cases in Ming-Ch'ing fiction and drama in which the crossovers between generic beauty and portrait are crucial to the story. (Examples: summarize.) This might sometimes, we can speculate, have been a literary device for praising the woman's beauty: she was so lovely that a true portrait of her was indistinguishable from a beautiful-woman painting. I am inclined to believe, in any case, that for the painters and their immediate clientele, cases of confusion would have been rare and exceptional. When the artist portrays the woman ambiguously, as sometimes happens, it is for a deliberate purpose.

S,S. The face of the woman who appears in the portrait of Ho T'ien-chang by Ch'en Hung-shou, for instance, although she is presumably to be identified as Ho's wife or a favorite concubine, appears to belong to an ideal type rather than to a particular person--this in contrast to the face of Ho T'ien-chang himself, which asserts an individual identity.

S --. The painting attributes to her only a kind of provisional status, seeming to occupy the world of art--again in contrast to his substantial presence and individualized face. As is all too common in works of this kind, the woman is included more as an attribute or possession of his than as a person in her own right, and in representing her this way the artist is in effect complimenting Ho.

S,S. Ch'en Hung-shou, although he presents Ho T'ien-chang's consort here as a pretty face, on another occasion could portray a woman he knew (I do not have the slide here) in a way that recognized her individuality and intelligence. In others of his paintings, moreover, Ch'en Hung-shou regularly sets women in roles that do not subordinate them to men, attributing to them literary, musical, and other talents and according them a measure of instrumentality in their lives. (A fan in the Metropolitan Museum at left, in which the man and his wife listen to the lutenist as equals; his well-known 1638 birthday picture for his aunt in which she is identified with a woman who gave lectures on a certain classical text, delivering an interpretation that had been transmitted only in her family.)

Ch'en is one of several men (the others I think of are the later litterateurs Li Yü and Yüan Mei) who, in this period when women's independent accomplishments are being increasingly recognized but also debated, take an ambivalent stance: on the one hand notorious womanizers, they also exhibit a respect for women's achievements that is rare among their male contemporaries, at least as attested in their preserved writings and recorded behavior.

S,S. (Mme Hotung again; anon. ptg in Met) Even these men who advocated education and freedom for women seem to have continued to hold a fundamental belief that beauty was women's prime attribute, and pleasing men with it their principal function. The early Ch'ing litterateur Li Yü, although he offers in one of his writings the opinion that a woman's beauty derives less from her physical attributes than from her deportment and from an elusive "charm," believed that a light complexion, smooth and unblemished, was of prime importance in a woman's appearance; he cites approvingly a line from the Book of Odes, "Ah, paleness makes for beauty." Next, in Li's opinion, are the eyebrows, which must be gracefully curved, and the eyes, which must be clear, with a steady gaze. After these come the hands and feet.[1] Literary conventions for describing beautiful women offer endlessly-repeated similes: hair like clouds, eyebrows like moth antennae or distant mountains, a mouth like a cherry, flesh like snow or white jade, and so forth.[2] The woman is characterized in terms that tend to emphasize transitory loveliness: she is like the willow beneath a spring moon, or a lotus rising from the water.

S,S. Yüan Mei, like Li Yü, admired and actively supported the engagement of women in literary composition, and had many gentry women writers among his friends and students. His practice of giving some of them poetry lessons in his Sui-yüan Garden in Yangchou, instead of in their homes, was considered scandalous by strict Confucianists such as Chang Hsüeh-ch'eng, for whom a literary (instead of a properly classical) education for them was already an affront to traditional morality.[3] A handscroll painting portraying a gathering that Yüan Mei and a group of woman poets held at the West Lake in Hangchou in 1792 allows us to visualize, although the place is different, the gatherings in the Sui-yüan Garden, idealized and overlaid with literary and pictorial resonances.

-- S (another section) The composition evokes such precedents as the "Elegant Gathering in the Western Garden," in which the eleventh-century Su Tung-p'o and his friends are seen practicing painting and calligraphy, and the "Orchid Pavilion Gathering" in which the calligrapher Wang Hsi-chih, seated in a pavilion at one end of the scroll, writes a preface to the poems composed by the other participants. Here it is Yüan Mei, at the age of 76, who sits in the pavilion with paper before him and brush in hand; the women engage in such long-established literati pursuits as fishing, painting a branch of blossoming plum, playing the zither and the flute, inscribing a banana-palm leaf, and leaning on a stalk of bamboo. The two minor artists who collaborated on the scroll, a portraitist and a landscapist, differentiate the figures only a little by age and facial type, although they are intended as portraits of particular literary women.

S -- (a distorted detail of a painting we'll consider later.) Like Li Yü, Yüan Mei saw women ultimately as sexual objects and had his own strong beliefs about criteria for choosing among them; also like Li Yü, he placed a good complexion uppermost among these. He may have shared in principle the belief that "beauty is only skin-deep,"[4] but in moments of decision he goes for great skin. Criticizing a man who had rejected a concubine because her feet were too big, he pronounces loftily that men who are really "enlightened in sexual matters . . . know that a girl's face, eyes, and skin complexion are far more important than the size of her feet."[5] Moreover, he carries that preference, presented there as a universal aesthetic judgement, into the particulars of his own life. In 1748 he went to inspect a young girl whom a fellow-official had offered him as a concubine. "She was eighteen and had a very good figure," he writes. "She let me look her up and down, draw back her dress and lift the hair from her temples without seeming to resent it in the least. I had half a mind to take her. But her complexion was not quite up to the mark, and I gave up the idea."[6] In 1754 he rejected another girl, who had been taken into his household on the assumption that she would become his concubine, because she had caught smallpox and was pock-marked; he gave her instead to a Mongol general, whose may have been less fastidious in his tastes.[7]

-- S.
How Yüan himself looked--somewhat later in his life, to be sure, and portrayed with a strong element of caricature--is revealed in the famous 1781 portrait by Lo P'ing. This is the man for whom the two young women lost their chances of becoming concubines through having less-than-perfect complexions. Blemishes in physical appearance could be tolerated in a man, but not in a woman, especially a woman who was to become one's property; one would not acquire a painting with mildew spots, or a ceramic vase with a badly stained or pitted surface.

S -- In 1790, when Yüan Mei was 75 (by Chinese count), a certain Sung-p'o asked him, on their initial meeting, to compose an inscription for an anonymous mei-jen or beautiful-woman picture. Sung-p'o may have been a newly-rich Yangchou merchant too unsophisticated to know that eminent literati were not ordinarily asked to inscribe such low-class paintings. Yüan, presumably after accepting some gift that obligated him to the man, dashed off a quatrain spontaneously, ending with the line "We don't know what man she is thinking of in her heart." And he concludes his prose note by saying that if the beauty could read his inscription, it would add to her artful smile. Imaginary though the woman may be, Yüan's urge is still to engage himself somehow with her, to be the imagined lover in her thoughts. Like other beauties in mei-jen paintings, she conforms with Yüan's ideal in the unnatural whiteness of her face and breast, presumably achieved by the application of cosmetics (her exposed hand is a more natural color.) The woman's face: reveals a slight inwardness, a bit dreamy. We are to understand, of course, as always in such pictures, that she is dreaming of her lover, awaiting his coming... (etc. Flower on banana tree.) The picture belongs, then, to the category of meiren or beautiful woman paintings.

S,S. A few more instances of portraiture, and quasi-portraiture, before we return to the generic meiren. By "quasi-portraiture" I mean to designate imaginary portraits of women of the past, a category that appears, understandably, to occupy a midway position between real portraits from life and the generic pictures of beautiful women, neither so individualized as the former nor so absorbed into a type as the latter. Good examples are the two surviving portraits of the Sung-period poet Li Ch'ing-chao painted by Ts'ui Hui, an artist active in the north in the early 18th century who is taking on an unexpected importance in my study, because of the quality and distinctiveness of his work. Both are in the Palace Museum, Beijing. The smaller of the two portrays her reclining on a rock, as a male poet might do in a painting, looking out at the viewer interestedly but not invitingly. The image has some resemblance, not unexpectedly, to a sub-type within the meiren genre, the literary woman as pin-up (the British Museum picture shown earlier is a good example.)

S,S. But the other, much more interesting depiction of Li Ch'ing-chao by Ts'ui Hui is a hanging scroll that bears only his seals. She is represented in her study, standing, pulling back the chair, welcoming a guest who, we assume, is a fellow poet, whether male or female. Nothing here suggests sexual invitation. The face is that of a poised, self-sufficient person; a touch of concern is expressed in the slanting eyebrows and piercing eyes. In such a picture as this, as in certain real portraits we will see, the artist adapts the formula of the "beauty's face" as it was current in his particular time and school to the needs of representing a subject for which the formulaic face would be inappropriate.

S,S. Imaginary portraits of famous courtesans of the past are to be seen in some number, and are of lesser interest, since the artists, with no visual information about how their subjects looked, feel no requirement or basis for departing more than slightly from the formula. Real portraits of courtesans done from life, or at least during the person's lifetime and presumably reflecting some first-hand knowledge of her physiognomy, are rarer; in fact, I know only two. Both support, I think, the argument that real portraits and generic pictures of beautiful women were kept distinct by the artists and most of their audiences. This one, a joint work of the early Ch'ing masters of Nanking Wu Hung and Fan Ch'i, portrays K'ou Mei or K'ou Pai-men, a courtesan of the Ch'in-Huai pleasure district in Nanking who was a contemporary of the artists. An inscription written later on the painting supplies information about her: she was bought out at the age of 18 or 19 by a high official named Chu Kuo-pi and became his concubine. When, upon the fall of Nanjing to the Manchus in 1645, Chu was put under house arrrest and suffered the confiscation of all his property, K'ou Mei repaid him by purchasing his freedom with a thousand pieces of gold. When went back then to the life of prostitution, presumably to recoup her fortunes and provide for her later years. She would drink all day with guests, and when by evening she was inebriated shewould give vent to her feelings in singing and weeping. It is at this stage of her career that she is portrayed, presumably from in the portrait, done in 1651.

She sits under a tree, as male poets do sometimes in their portraits, her gesture and tilted head seem expressive of some inner state or feeling, not directed outward to some imagined viewer; she seems in fact to be comfortably alone in nature, perhaps composing a poem. Her face, while simply drawn, reveals the "refined, quiet beauty" praised in the inscription, and is the face of an individual, not accomodated to some impersonal ideal of beauty. Sexuality is de-emphasized in the picture, and the gender-specific avoided; these aspects of it are important, but cannot be explored here.

S,S. The other example known to me is a small but remarkable picture bearing the title "True Face of Courtesan Tung." Another woman of the Ch'in-Huai district in Nanjing, Courtesan Tung herself had it painted around 1560 by the well-known artist Ch'ien Ku, to send to her lover Wang Huai, an official who came from a prominent family of Hsiu-ning in Anhui. The poet and collector Huang Chi-shui provides this information in his preface composed in 1561 for a long series of poems that accompany the painting; two other noted literai of the time, Mo Shih-lung and Hsiang Sheng-mo, wrote titles for it. According to Huang Chi-shui's account, she was worried that her lover's memory of her face would fade over a separation of several years, and had this "true image" of it made to send to him, to remind him of her beauty. Through the sensitivity and artistic skill of Ch'ien Ku she also reminds him, and persuades us, that this beauty was more than a surface attribute. Her hair is done up plainly in a bun; her adornments, earring and hairpins, are similarly modest, as is her unornamented jacket. She turns away in a reserved three-quarter view, not looking outward toward us--or, more properly, toward her lover Wang Huai, the intended viewer of the picture. And once more, the drawing of her eyes, eyebrows, and mouth indicates intelligence and character more than conventional prettiness.

-- S. As Judith Zeitlin points out, when the beauty in a story or play has her portrait painted, or paints it herself, it usually portends her imminent death--she is leaving a pictorial record of her beauty before it is too late. The classical case is in the play Mu-tan T'ing or Peony Pavilion, to which this is an illustration: the heroine Tu Li-niang paints her self-portrait by observing her face in a mirror and simply copying it (a version of how portraiture is accomplished that itself calls into question the writer's understanding of it.) We can hope that the portrait of Courtesan Tung, so far as I know the only extant work that can be recognized as the outcome of such a resolve on the woman's part, presaged no such tragic end for her. (I haven't pursued the matter enough to know for sure.)

-- S. The seeming informality and modesty of Ch'ien Ku's portrait might persuade us that it is drawn directly from life; and it may indeed have been. But normal practice in China was for the portraitist to make a prelimary drawing that the sitter would approve before the finished portrait was done. Lo P'ing's portrayal of Yuan Mei, shown earlier, was an example; another is this, one of an album of late Ming portraits of famous men of Chekiang province in the Nanking Museum. The "warts-and-all" realism of these prelimary drawings would presumably have given way to smoothed-out, blander faces in the finished works. If we had a similar series of portraits of women done from life, would they prove to be raw representations like these?

S,S. Although no series of sketch-portraits of women survives from so early a date, to my knowledge, some part of an answer might be seen in a set of albums, of undeterminate date (but probably late), owned by the calligrapher-scholar Huang Miaozi, who bought them in Beijing in the 1950s with the understanding that they had come from a famous portrait studio located in the north part of the capital. Which of them are from life and which posthumous, from the corpse or even (if we can believe popular accounts) from descriptions of the deceased offered by family members, is beyond determination. In any case, they offer evidence that where male portraits could be strongly differentiated and unflattering, those of women, at least of younger women, deviated less from the ideal of feminine beauty. In appreciating them we can recognize the double charge faced by the portraitist of these subjects.

S,S. (Two more.) On the one hand, we can imagine, the women and their husbands or lovers (as in the "Courtesan Tung" picture) must have appreciated having them portrayed in images that conformed enough to the "beauty's face" ideal of their time flatter them slightly by ascribing to them some measure of beauty; on the other hand, they wanted their portraits to be recognizable as representations of themselves as distinct individuals. Any artist who has made portraits of younger women, in whatever tradition, must surely have learned to maneuver between these two sets of expectations. By defining in this way the problem faced by portraitists of women we can both understand the occasional ambiguities that allowed portraits to be mistaken for meiren or the reverse, and recognize that the distinction, both in intent and in outcome, was nonetheless real and normally unproblematic for those conversant with the code.

S,S. (An early 18th cent. portrait of a woman in the Nelson Gallery, K.C.) It is clear that far less deviation from the ideal was tolerated in portraits of women. Ch'ien Ku, then, had the double charge or "painter's brief" (in Baxandall's term) of conveying Courtesan Tung's beauty, the very purpose of his painting, and at the same time conveying enough of her distinguishing features to make the picture recognizable as her portrait. And the features that answer to the latter of these two requirements are the ones that distinguish the picture, and other portraits from life of women, however beautiful, from generic mei-jen paintings.

S,S. Two more examples, details from group portraits of families, late 17th and 18th centuries, to conclude this section of my talk. Portrait faces, especially of women, understandably exhibit no distinct facial expressions; any woman having her portrait done would surely have preferred the infinite options of an impassive face to the narrower characterization imposed by a particular expression. But the generic meiren paintings, because they ordinarily situate the women within particular implicit narratives, do allow a degree of facial expressiveness, an opening that was exploited to good effect by some of the artists who painted them from the late Ming through the middle Ch'ing period. I will conclude with a look at the kinds of differentiation we can find in them.

S,S. The ability of Japanese print designers, notably the late18th century master Utamaro, to START HERE

Put in Yü Chih-ting here: bitter look, vs. (ptg that could almost be companion piece) drowsy pleasure.

(Then on to: Huang Shih-fu)

A picture titled "A Fairy Beauty at Quiet Rest," painted in 1640 by a minor master from Fukien named Huang Shih-fu, portrays the charming girl seated on a garden rock, wearing a see-through gauze jacket over the apron-like undergarment called mo-hsiung. This is not a portrayal of a woman waiting for her lover to come; her look and gesture imply the presence of a beholder, and the poem confirms this, beginning "Dimly one perceives a wafting of faint fragrance" and containing the lines "She does not speak, yet her love is sincere;/ She blushes but entices a tacit intimacy." Her dishabille in the presence of a man (with whom the viewer of the painting identifies) implies her sexual availability, which is again underscored in the poem, and in her face, with narrowed eyes and little finger touching her mouth. The artist's inscription dedicates the picture to a certain "Old Mr. Ts'an" and notes that it is the eighteenth scroll, presumably of a series. Were these portraits of old Mr. Ts'an's concubines, or famous courtesans of some pleasure district, or a catalog of types of beauty, like the print series designed by Utamaro in 18th-century Japan? We can only guess; but we can recognize in the picture one type of particularized facial expression: the woman aware of being looked at by a man, her lover or potential lover. Here, the male viewer of the painting can occupy this position in imagination.

(my ptg, turning out light)

S,S. But even when a man is represented in the painting, as in this picture of Yang Kuei-fei bathing, probably by Ku Chien-lung of the early Ch'ing, the viewer can still be enticed into a feeling of complicity by the woman's look, directed outward toward him, and by her self-conscious smile which the the imperial voyeur himself cannot see, since her face is turned toward us and away from him.

S,S. Such complicity with an implied viewer outside the painting would be unthinkable when the male lover portrayed is not a figure from the distant past, but the reigning emperor--here Ch'ien-lung, for whom this pair of paintings was done, probably as a collaboration between Chin T'ing-piao and Lang Shih-ning or Castiglione. The expression on the face of Ch'ien-lung's consort is a response to the imperial gaze, indicating her consciousness of it in her raised eyebrows and slightly crooked smile: Yes, it says, I know you are looking at me, and am entirely receptive.

S,S. (what? 8 Consorts of T'ang Yin.) A mid-18th century writer named Chiang I, in a note on paintings of beautiful women (one of the very few references to them in the literature), advises that "their eyes can be large or small, their eyebrows sparse or heavy; their faces are all unlike each other. But any of these can be the ultimate in beauty. You only have to capture their essence in their gaze." (Tu-hua chi-wen, in Hua-yüan pi-chi, 3b.)

S.S. Cf. Ukiyo-e prints (or ptgs) in Japan. Similarly, women's faces tend to be uniform in any one period & style; but

S,S. (Utamaro) When it's to artist's purpose, (etc.--class; mood. Two pairs?)

S,S. In China, facial expression on women usually indicated low social class, or (as here) demonic status; used when narrative required it. (explain). But well-born women, presented as possessions of men, could only ...

How to escape this? Portraits, of course; but that's beyond our subject. Portraits of courtesans, done during their lifetimes: only two known to me. (Show, discuss.)

Another type that permits escape from "pretty face" picture: imaginary portraits of women of past. Most interesting of these known to me are two by little-noticed artist named Ts'ui Hui, active in north in late K'ang-hsi/Yung-cheng, somehow assoc. w. Chiao Ping-chen and Leng Mei. (Two pictures of Li Ch'ing-chao, Sung poet.) That this was a period when women had more access to literary education is now known through quite a few studies, including those of Dorothy Ko. Also big issue of controversy among men, bet. those such as Li Yü and Yüan Chiang who favored giving them a literary education so that they could compose poetry and prose--as indeed they did, again subj. of much recent scholarship--and those such as Chang Hsüeh-tseng who argued strongly (and angrily, Yüan Mei being one of his targets) that education for women should be limited to Confucian moral texts, both to guide them in their own deportment and to make them more effective as teachers of their children, especially male children. (Etc.) We would like to know about audience and patronage for such ptgs, and would like to locate it somewhere within the coteries and networks of literary women that were highly dev. by this time. But no firm evidence. Can only say that while images of literary women can be intended as objects of desire by men, as in examples we'll see later, these don't appear to be that--these women make none of enticing gestures, have none of come-hither attributes, that identify those other paintings.

Under "Mme Hotung" etc.: note that although face remains nearly expressionless, tilt of head, posture, can change whole effect: in this, like Nô dance-drama and Bunraku puppet theater in Japan: masks, but can be made subtly expressive by angle of view. Kuan-yin seems to express compassion, "Mme Hotung" allure, etc. In family scene, expres. of concern?

References in the text

[1]Ch'en Tung-yüan, "Feng-chien she-hui nan-tzu yen-chung ti nü-hsing mei yü Ch'ing-tai ti hsiao-chiao k'uang" (Female Beauty as Perceived by Men in Feudal Society and the Ch'ing Dynasty Craze for Footbinding,) in Shansi People's Publishing House, ed., (Widowhood, Remarriage, Footbinding, etc.: An Investigation into All Aspects of Women's Lives in Ancient China,) Hsi-an, Shansi People's Publishing House, pp. 183-84, includes a long discussion of Li Yü's views on feminine beauty and charm. Paul Ropp, "The Seeds of Change," p. 6, summarizes Li Yü's views.

[2]Levy, Mist and Flowers, p. 8.

[3]Ellen Widmer, "Epistolatory World," pp. 1, 32-34.

[4]Judith Zeitlin, Historian of the Strange: Pu Songling and the Chinese Classical Tale Stanford, 1993, pp. 125-6, cites stories from Liao-chai chih-i and Lieh-nü chuan that have this as their underlying moral.

[5]This summary of Yüan's view is by Paul Ropp, in "Seeds of Change," p. 14.

[6]Waley, p. 46.

[7]Ibid. p. 84.

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