VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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The Eight Immortals
2002.763.1-4
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

This painting shows a virtuosity of strokes used by Ren in depicting the luxuriant folds of the robes of the immortals. The folds are at times highly exaggerated and look highly archaic and quaint as in the style of Chen Hongshou (1598-1652). The ethereal quality of the immortals is communicated by their self-absorbed body postures. Ren had a firm foundation in figure painting as his father was a professional figure painter.

History of the Object
Ren Bonian excelled mainly in figure, bird and flower paintings. He was also known as Ren Yi or Xiao lou. Although born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, Ren became one of the key proponents of the Shanghai School of painting, together with the other three Rens (Ren Xiong, Ren Xun and Ren Yu), Xugu and Qian Hui’an. The Shanghai school breathed new life into the clichéd compositions inherited from literati traditions. They demonstrated a propensity for smooth surfaces and easily comprehensible, popular subject matter and themes (such as bird and flower paintings and figure paintings of immortals), veering away from academic topics like landscape paintings favoured by the literati class. The emerging mercantile community in the Shanghai area who were the patrons of the Shanghai school, coupled with the artists’ innovation brought about this change in painting style.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Chinese ink and colour on paper 
Measurements
H: 150cm, W: 81.5 cm 
Creator name
Ren Bonian 
Creator date
1840-1895 
Where it was made
China, Shanghai 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; 1880 
Function
Decorative, for hanging in halls 
Acquisition
The painting comes from the collection of the late Dr. Tan Tsze Chor who was well-known for his immense collection of Chinese art in Malaya and Singapore. The collection was known as Xiang Xue Zhuang and was famous for its Ren Bonian paintings, Qi Baishi ink seals and Transitional Period (17th century) ceramics. The collection was donated to the museum. 
Copyright
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Acknowledgements
Szan Tan 
Owner
Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 
Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum 
Credit line
Gift of the Tan Family in memory of their late father, Dr. Tan Tsze Chor. 

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