Chinese stone rubbing mounted to scroll. Possibly a portrait of Xue Tao (Hsueh Tao), a female scholar.
Provenance: From the collection of Malcolm E. Lein, former director of the Minnesota Museum of American Art.
Malcolm Emil Lein (1913-2003) was the director of the Minnesota Museum of American Art during its early and formative years. During his 30-year tenure, he fought to procure the museum funding, grow its permanent collection, and establish it as St. Paul's premiere gallery. Along with his wife Miriam, who worked at the Walker Art Center, he was a fixture in the Twin Cities artistic community throughout his life.
A page attached the back describes the subject in detail:
RUBBING PURCHASED SEPTEMBER 1945 IN KUNMING, CHINA
The following information (reproduced without change) was given by the Dealer when it was acquired:
RUBBING FROM FAMOUS STONE TABLET
HSUEH TAO - famous sing song girl in the Tang Dynasty (600 A. D. ). The stone in memorial of her is in Chegtu, where thousands of visitors daily.
The writing is her biography.
"A Free Translation of the inscription - from right to left and top to bottom.
This is a portrait of Hsuen Tao, also known as Hung Do.
She was born in a good family in a city of Szechwan Province in the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618). By the time she was eight years old she was so well educated that she could write poems, play music and sing. Her father died while acting as an official in the province of Szechwan, and her mother devoted her life to looking after her talented daughter.
Before she was 18 years old her name was well known to everybody in the town. The city magistrate offered her the office of instructor of all the sing song girls (famous for their culture in ancient times), but in fact she acted as his private secretary and mingled with educated people and made friends for some eleven years.
At middle age, she enjoyed dressing up something like a Taoist girl. While she lived in a court having a famous well named "Hwan Hwa-chi" (meaning wash the flower). She adopted the name "Hwan Hwa-juen" (meaning who wahes the flower). She manufactured hand-made paper in 10 colors, by using the water from the well, having pine tree designs in the waterlines of the paper. (shown in her hands) Many people came and bought the beautiful paper at high price. On this paper they were inspired to write unusually beautiful poems and songs to present to their friends. They gave her full credit as a woman scholar.
Hsuen Tao altho[ugh] a weak girl, became famous for her knowledge but not for her beauty. Through out the Tang Dynasty down to the present period all the good educated people knew her, as a heroine.
As a monument to her life, the city magistrate built a cabinet near the well where she used to live and carved this portrait or the stone as permanent record of her deeds.
(Signed) Loa Hung-i and his brother in the 12th of the 29th year of Kwan Hau. (1904)
Sight; height: 69 in x width: 30 3/4 in. Framed; height: 71 in x 32 in.
The artwork is in fair condition. There are several creases, stains, tears, and losses throughout. Most notably, a stain along the upper right. Some losses along the upper margin. A network of horizontal creases along the bottom portion. The frame has some wear.
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