Sunday, November 04, 2012

Yun Xiang

Orchids, 1824

It turns out I'm a big fan of Yun Xiang, a Chinese woman who died in 1827.

And it appears that I'm not the only one -- because I've seen this painting several times over the past decades at the Smart Museum -- so someone there has repeatedly chosen to rotate it back into display.

Her life story, such as it is known, also interests me.

She grew up in a Buddhist monastery, then went over to Taoism at the age of nineteen. There's also a story that she worked as courtesan - where her skills in painting would likely be appreciated by scholar clients. All of which would suggest to me that she did not have the support of prosperous parents.

Happily, the museum has put a scrollable, zoom-able image of it up on the internet. Unhappily, their scroll photography skills are not up to the high standards of the National Museum in Taipei. But at least they've done far more than the Art Institute has done with its collection of Chinese painting.

More scrolls have been digitized by the University of Chicago here .


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