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Picturing the Shanghai Artist

Picturing the Shanghai Artist

Subjects and Audiences

(p.159) Chapter Four Picturing the Shanghai Artist
Art Worlds
Roberta Wue
Hong Kong University Press

Looks at portraits of the art world produced by Shanghai’s best-known artist, Ren Bonian (1840-1896). Unique for their near-exclusive focus on art world sitters, these are portraits in which the artist collaborated with their subjects to investigate an array of artistic identities, from conventional renderings of the artist as scholar and gentleman, to unexpected depictions of artists as men about town, failures, sell-outs and beggars. These are images that exceed portraiture’s usual purpose of documenting likeness and social status, instead seeking to comment on the modern Chinese artist’s engagement with a complex and demanding urban market and art world.

Keywords:   Portraits, Professional courtesy, Posthumous images, Male fashion, Queues, Sobriquets, Persona

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