Les Raboteurs de Parquet (The Floor Scrapers), 1875, by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

“This is one of the first paintings to feature the urban working class. It reintroduces the subject of the male nude in the painting, but in a strikingly updated form. Instead of the heroes of antiquity, here are the heroes of modern life - sinewy and strong - in stooped poses that would appear demeaning if they did not convey a sense of masculine strength and honest labor.”

Self-Portrait by Panzhang Yuliang (潘张玉良). 1940.

Born Chen Xiuqing in 1895 in Jiangsu Province, this first Chinese woman to paint in the Western style was adopted by her uncle at the age of 14 after her parents’ death. The uncle renamed her Zhang Yuliang and sold her to a brothel. Eventually, she married Pan Zanhua and took on his family name in addition to her own; her new husband paid for her education, and Panzhang studied art in Shanghai, France, and Italy. After winning a Gold Prize at Roman International Art Exhibition, Panzhang returned to China to teach art and exhibit her work. Her artwork drew controversy: some felt that her images of nudes were too provocative, whilst others regarded her embracing of a European style as a sign of modernity. Panzhang moved back to Paris in 1937, where she would stay until her death in 1977. Today, she is remembered for her use of vivid color and soft forms, and the manner in which she blended Chinese and European traditions in her art.

Follow sinθ magazine for more daily posts about Sino arts and culture.