seated man with long beard, with a woman in a fur-trimmed hat behind him; burner with 2 teapots in foreground; table with foliage bouquet in vase, box and cup in background

Beauty in Winter, 17th-18th century

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This image is a rare example in which a man and woman are depicted as having almost equal status; rather than appearing to serve her husband, the woman seems to command an equal amount of space and attention. This concept, called ju an qi mei, can be understood as a respectful affection and harmony between spouses. The couple, an official and his wife, are wearing elaborate winter costumes. They are engaged in an intimate conversation in front of a hot stove, on which a pot of wine is warming. The bamboo branches and plum blossoms in the vase reinforce the winter setting: plum trees bloom in winter and bamboo is an evergreen. These plants, able to withstand the harsh winter season, are symbolic of the couple’s moral strength.

Gao Qipei was known for his “finger paintings”; the artist painted his works, including this one, with his fingernail rather than a brush.

Details
Title
Beauty in Winter
Artist Life
1660 - 1734
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2004.134
Curator Approved

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seated man with long beard, with a woman in a fur-trimmed hat behind him; burner with 2 teapots in foreground; table with foliage bouquet in vase, box and cup in background