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Ancestor Portrait, Male Official

Accession Number
1951/2.29

Title
Ancestor Portrait, Male Official

Artist(s)
Chinese

Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1870-1930

Medium & Support
hanging scroll, ink and color on paper

Dimensions
53 3/4 in. x 26 in. ( 136.5 cm x 66 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Otto Au

Label copy
Ancestral portrait, male official
China
Qing dynasty (1644–1912)
1870–1900
Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
Gift of Otto Au, 1951/2.29

For a viewer of the time, this painting and those like it
offered a set of clues about the social identity and position
of the person depicted. The topcoat, made from blue-black
satin and edged with white fur, was worn by fourth- through
ninth-rank civil officials. The type of bird on the coat’s
rank badge is unusually difficult to determine since its tail
feathers are ambiguous. But paired with details like the hat’s
gold finial, this man’s status as a ninth-rank civil official
(the lowest) with a paradise flycatcher rank badge becomes
clear. While the ambiguity could be the fault of the painter,
some badges were made purposefully ambiguous so that the
wearer might be perceived as having a higher rank.
The small, plain, stiffened fur collar indicates the season is
winter and helps to date this work to the second half of the
nineteenth century, when such collars were fashionable. The
type of collar also indicates this is the informal style of dress
rather than full court dress, as does the hat, a winter style
used in informal settings.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
hanging scroll

Additional Object Classification(s)
Painting

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Portraits

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