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Ten Fine Dogs

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: ink and color on paper
Format: album

Artist(s): Ignatius Sichelbart (Chinese name Ai Qimeng, 1708-1780)

Dimensions: 24.5 × 29.3 cm

A native of Bohemia (a region forming the western part of today's Czech Republic), Ignatius Sichelbart came to China as a Jesuit missionary in 1745 (the tenth year of the Qianlong reign [1736-1795]). Because of his craftsmanship in portraits, paintings of figures, birds, and animals, he was immediately summoned to the imperial palace and became a professional court painter. He assumed the Chinese name Ai Qimeng, with the style name Xing'an. In the history of Chinese painting, he was listed as one of the four "Western Painters" with Giuseppe Castiglione (Chinese name Lang Shining, 1688-1766), Jean-Denis Attiret (Chinese name Wang Zhicheng, 1702-1768), and Joannes Damascenus Salusti (Chinese name An Deyi, d. 1781). The European painting techniques he used, to some extent, influenced the style of court paintings in his time. 
  These leaves are portraits of purebred European hounds kept by the Qianlong Emperor in the imperial palace. With European life sketch techniques and his anatomical knowledge, Ignatius Sichelbart delineated with painstaking craftsmanship the hounds' superb physiques, and represented their furry texture. Each of these highly realistic portraits bears the name of the hound, which provides valuable resources for research related to imperial hounds. The background landscapes were done by Chinese painters. Such collaboration typifies court paintings in the Qianlong period.
  With the inscription "humbly painted by your servant Ai Qimeng", the leaves are affixed with the intaglio seal "Your Servant Ai Qimeng", a relief seal "Humbly Painted" (gonghua). On the opposite side of each album leaf is an inscription by Academician Wang Youdun and Liang Shizheng eulogizing the portrait. Collectors' seals include "Qianlong Authenticated" (Qianlong jianshang) and "For the Benefit of Later Generations" (Yi zisun).
  This album was originally kept in the Hall of Joyful Longevity (Leshou tang). It is recorded in The Precious Collection of the Stone Moat (Shiqu baoji).

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