Portraits of members of a family

Unidentified artist

Not on view

Portrait albums are rare, and this one, which seems to depict an entire family, is particularly unusual. Several of the men wear “rank badges”—textile squares or circles indicating their official position within the Qing government. In each image, objects of refinement—books, fine furniture, scholar’s rocks—are carefully placed around the sitter to indicate his or her sophistication. This album is a touching document of one family’s attempt to record its ideal self-image.

Portraits of members of a family, Unidentified artist, Album of nineteen leaves; ink and color on silk, China

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