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Many-Treasure-Cabinet Painting, Village Doorway (Duobaoge tuhua 多寶閣圖畫) Taubes, Hannibal

Description

The house is located in Yu County (Yu xian 蔚縣), Hebei 河北 Province. An approximate location has been provided and the village name and its precise coordinates have been concealed to protect potentially vulnerable sites from looters. The paintings are hung on four panels suspended over the south-facing door of a large and prosperous village house. The original family that inhabited this house is now gone, and while the neighbors have the keys, the structure seems mostly derelict, and no other such paintings are found inside. The images represent a style of European-influenced decorative still-life painting best known from Korea, where such paintings are called "Books-and-Things" (Chaekgeori 책거리) or "Bookshelf-Pictures" (Chaekgado 책가도, 冊架圖). One or two examples are known from 18th-century China, where they are often called Many-Treasure-Cabinet (Duobaoge 多寶閣) paintings, after a genre of decorative Qing (1644-1911) furniture. Although this example is not dated, the style and palette of this painting also point to an eighteenth-century provenance, and other dated examples Many-Treasure-Cabinet paintings are known in Yu County from this period. The images use heavy shading and steep perspective to create the impression of shelves receding into spatial depth. On these shelves are set a variety of realistically-rendered objects which reflect the good taste of the family, including books, flowers, fans, pendants, etc. See Kim Sunglim, "Still Life in Motion: The Origins and Developments of Chaekgeori Painting," Ars Orientalis 51 (2021), forthcoming, for an analysis of these and related images in a broader Eurasian context.

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