Portrait of a Punjabi in British India 1898
- About the artworkAbout artwork & ArtistSigned, Hubert Vos
Oil on canvas
Dimensions 74 cm by 59 cm
Hubert Vos was a true cosmopolitan, born in Maastricht he studied in Brussels, Rome and Paris, where he won a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1886 and 1890. In 1887 he moved to London where he founded the society of British Portrait Painters and the Society of Pastellists together with his friend, the American-born and British-based painter, James McNeill Whistler.
In 1892 the Dutch Government appointed him as its commissioner at the World Exhibition in Chicago. There he became interested as an artist in the various racial types he met. He painted portraits of American Indians and people from Hawaii. Around the turn of the century he moved on to the Far East where he painted such high-placed persons as Prince Ching, Premier of China and uncle of the young Emperor, Yuan Shi Kai, the Javanese Sultan of Djokjakarta, the Emperor and the Crown Prince of Korea. But the most remarkable event of his life was the invitation he received in 1905 from the Dowager Empress of China, Tzu Hsi, to paint her portrait in her summer palace in Peking. Never before had a man been admitted there. The Empress, seventy two years old, told him she wanted a perfect likeness but that she must appear no more than forty years of age.
The result, a life-sized picture of the majestic, energetic woman, adorned with all the necessary imperial attributes was to her satisfaction and Vos was made commander of the Double Dragon and a mandarin. Tzu Hsi died in 1908 and with her over thousands of years of imperial rule over China. What Charles Cordier was for sculpture Vos was for painting; an ethnographic artist.
Vos made copies of all his portraits for his own collection.
The present portrait was a copy of a portrait exhibited in “Rulers of the East” in Holland House, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, November 30, 1944.
Provenance: the artist’s collection and by descent to his grandson Hubert D. Vos
- About the artist
Hubert Vos was born on the 15th of February in 1855.
He was a Dutch painter who was born in Maastricht.
He studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and with Fernand Cormon in Paris. He exhibited widely in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Dresden and Munich.
From 1885 to 1892, he worked in England, where he exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1888 and 1891. He was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists.
His second wife was Eleanor Kaikilani Coney, of Hawaiian, Chinese, and American descent. In 1898, he visited Hawaii, where he painted the local people. In that same year, Vos traveled to Korea, where he completed at least three paintings in duplicate. In each case, he left one copy in Korea and kept one copy.
The paintings are a life-sized portrait of Emperor Gojong, a portrait of Min Sangho (1870–1933), and a landscape of Seoul. The copies left in Korea hung in the Deoksugung Palace until all except the landscape of Seoul, were destroyed by fire in 1904. Vos visited China in 1899 and painted portraits of prominent leaders. Empress Dowager Cixi (Tzu Hsi), whose portrait had been painted in oil by the American artist Katharine Carl, saw these portraits and invited Vos to visit China in 1905. He did one portrait of her which is still displayed in the Summer Palace, then after he got back to New York, finished another portrait which he had started in China.This was displayed at the Paris Salon, then acquired by Grenville L. Winthrop and given to the Fogg Museum at Harvard.
In addition to portraits and landscapes, Vos is known for his interior scenes and still-life paintings of Chinese porcelains. The gifts from Empress Dowager Cixi are favorite objects of the still-life paintings. He died in New York City in 1935.
The Louvre Museum (Paris, France), Bonnefanten Museum (Maastricht, Netherlands), the Chicago History Museum, the Fogg Art Museum (Harvard University), the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Luxembourg Palace (Paris), the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum are among the public collections holding works by Hubert Vos.
Hubert Vos died in 1935.