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  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Woman in a garden
    Fan painting - Woman in a garden by Fei Danxu (1801-1850)

    A lady leans on a rock withing a garden enclosure. Fei Danxu was one of the most popular and successful artists in the nineteenth century. He was active in both Hangzhou and Shanghai. Although he painted every possible subject, he is most remembered for his figure paintings, especially those of women. His tradition lived on in the work of his sons, one of whom, Fei Yigeng, is represented in this collection. In this fan, the lady who leans against the rock with her head resting on her hand adopts the "relaxed and unaffected look" for which Danxu was famous. As with so many images of women, the figure is placed in a setting bounded by a fence, suggesting the boundaries and limitations of their lives. Although she can appreciate the garden with its trees, she is confined by her life within the home. Danxu's ladies have a dreamy expression, however, that might suggest that their thoughts are elsewhere, and this may be a part of their attractiveness. The leaves of the trees, painted in two shades of greenish blue, are particularly effective.