Xing Xing (date unknown)



Xing Xing
(date unknown)
Mountain landscape, 1911.
Ink and colour on paper on gold, butterfly-shaped fan, mounted in scroll
64 x 37.5 cm (25 x 14.5 in), scroll
Inscribed, signed Xing Xing, dated China 1911
1911 He left the Academy of Shouzhu, Xing Xing

Condition: some yellow stains, some minor ones on painting itself but mostly near the edges of paper, as expected with age; it may have had wood worms; otherwise good condition

Provenance: formerly in a Swiss collection

The fan portrays a beautiful scene representing a mountainous landscape with small houses, all arranged in a good composition given the size and form of the space on which to paint. This is a traditional subject matter in Chinese scroll paintings. Here, however, there is a loose and impressionistic use of the brush, albeit a well planned one, which contrasts with the techniques used in the very classic paintings where there is great emphasis on using the brush in a precise way to allow for details to stand out.

Fans are often used solely for the purpose of painting on them. However, early on they had only a functional purpose. Painting was considered inappropriate because activities in general were expected to be directed towards a divine purpose unless there could be a functional reason for it. Since painting per se would be considered an idle activity, painting an object such as a fan, which had a practical use, was acceptable. For this reason some of the early manifestations of Chinese paintings for the home were made in fans, round at an early time. For example, an 8th century hand scroll with female figures holding round fans was shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum\'s exhibition on Masterpieces of Chinese Painting (2013.) Such fans were eventually replaced by others with the butterfly shape, painted for purely artistic reasons.


Masterpieces of Chinese Painting. 700 to 1900. Victoria and Albert Museum, 2013.