Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Painted Skin

  • loan
  • Description

    This figure is a demoness who disguises herself as a pretty teenage girl by painting her flayed skin in bright colours. In the story, the scholar Mr Wang admires her beauty and lets her stay in his studio. But at night, the demoness breaks into Wang’s bedroom and eats his heart in front of his wife.

    Ding Cong, also known as Xiao Ding, was a cartoonist and illustrator from Shanghai. In the 1930s and 1940s, he was famous for his paintings about freedom and democracy, subjects to which he was able to return only in 1979. It is likely this painting is a satirical reference to Mao Zedong’s wife Jiang Qing as the artist Ding Cong had suffered so much during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

  • Details

    Associated place
    AsiaChinaHebei province Beijing (place of creation)
    October 1979
    Ding Cong (1916 - 2009) (artist)
    Ding Cong (1916 - 2009) (calligrapher)
    Associated people
    Khoan Sullivan (1919 - 2003) (recipient)
    Michael Sullivan (1916 - 2013) (recipient)
    Material and technique
    ink and colour on paper
    frame 43.3 x 36 x 3.8 cm (height x width x depth)
    painting 29.8 x 20.3 cm (height x width)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    Credit line
    On loan from the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection.
    Accession no.
  • Further reading

    Sullivan, Michael, Modern Chinese Art: The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection, revised edn (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2009), no. 97 on p. 288, illus. p. 288 fig. 97



  • Ding

    A Chinese bronze tripod ritual cooking vessel. Also a type of white porcelain from Northern China.

Past Exhibition

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    • currently in research collection

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