Images of women by Chinese artists from the 11th through the 20th century.
Across all cultures, physical allure has been a central focus of depicting women in art. In China, the rich visual cultures of the region have produced many different images of women in accordance with the fashions, styles, aesthetics, and concepts of beauty. Works that today seem to be modest depictions of beautiful women may have been considered highly suggestive when first created. “Court Ladies or Pin-Up Girls?” includes paintings, prints, posters, and photographs of women by Chinese artists from the 11th through the 20th century. Highlights include Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk (1082–1135), one of the MFA’s great masterpieces of Chinese paintings, as well as 18th century erotic paintings, turn-of-the century hand-colored photographs of courtesans, a 1930s advertisement poster, and 20th-century propaganda posters of female factory workers.
Above: Emperor Huizong, Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk (detail), early 12th century. Ink, color, and gold on silk. Special Chinese and Japanese Fund.