Friday, 19 September 2014

Heritage Community Series | De-mystifying Chinese Portraits: Style, Structure and Status

Lim Kim Swee, Ancestor Portrait of Wee Boon Teck, 1899, Singapore
Gouache, Watercolour and Gold Leaf on Paper, 114.5 x 83.5 cm
Gift of Wee Lin

Date: 3 October 2014, Friday
Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Venue: NUS Baba House

Limited to 30 pax. To register, email

The practise of portraiture and likenesses in portraiture has a long tradition stretching back to Chinese artwork in tomb murals, dating to the Warring States period. The development of portraiture had been relatively late as classical Chinese paintings featuring calligraphy or themes of landscapes, flowers and birds were highly sought after. These were considered to have a high level of stylisation, mystical appeal, and surreal elegance. 

In the Song dynasty, portrait painting became more standard and sophisticated. It further evolved after missionary Matteo Ricci’s visit to China in 1572 during which, he shared his knowledge on the European way of painting with Chinese artists. Chinese style of painting now incorporated Western techniques such as lighting and shading. 

Join speakers Pauline Ong to trace the history of portraiture in Chinese Art and compares it to the style of painting by the European masters. Whereas, Clara Chan continues with sharing about the portraits and photographs displayed at the Baba House.

About the speakers

Pauline Ong, a native of Shanghai, grew up in Singapore and has lived there since 1953. Even though she graduated as a pharmacist, she was always curious and keen to learn more about her Chinese roots, its arts and history, as well as the cultures of Southeast Asia. Thus in 1998, Pauline joined the Friends of the Museums (FOM) and studied to be Docent (Volunteer Guide) at the Singapore Art, Asian Civilisations, Peranakan and National Museums. She is now training to be a Docent at the Indian Heritage Centre (opening mid 2015). 

Clara Chan graduated from the University of London in 2007 with a BA in Law and was working in the banking industry before her retirement. In 2010, she trained to become a docent as she was keen to discover more about different cultures and their traditions. She currently guides at the NUS Baba House, National Museum of Singapore and the Malay Heritage Centre where she also assists to co-ordinate the Friends of the Museums (FOM) docent training.

About the Heritage Community Series
Encouraged by the growing community of Singaporeans actively committed to exploring history and raising cultural awareness, the Heritage Community Series is introduced as a platform where independent researchers, heritage enthusiasts and collectors share their encounters, perspectives and experiences. 

Look out for our upcoming talks in the Heritage Community Series
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 - A Heavenly Offering


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