‘Orphaned in his early teens, Ren Bonian (also know as Ren Yi) was apprenticed to a fan shop in Shanghai. Here he learnt to paint and to copy the work of the then well-known and established artist Ren Xiong, and subsequently became his pupil. Ren Bonian’s figure paintings are distinguished by dramatic and accented brushstrokes. His inherent eloquence with brush and ink is well illustrated in the variable and expressive strokes of the tree, swift dashes of ink that define the wintry branches and the moody strokes that define the foreground rocks. He gained his fame as a portrait and figure painter but is equally known for his bird and flower subjects. This example is fully characteristic of his style: eloquent, sparse, delicate, with the brushstrokes echoing against timeless space of the background. This inscription, written by Ren Bonian in his studio in Shanghai in the third month of the ‘guizi’ year  of Guangxu reign.’’
‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.166.
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales
Figure standing in a boat
hanging scroll; ink and light colour on paper
114.3 x 48.2 cm image; 197.0 x 61.5 x 69.0 cm scroll
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.l. to c.l., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink "…in the March of the year of Guizi (1893)…Ren T Bonian.".
Signed c.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink "Ren Yi [artist's seal, square relief]".
Signed c.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink "Bo Nian [artist's seal]".
Not on display
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Contemporary Chinese Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 May 1985–30 Jun 1985
Chinese Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Nov 1991–27 Jan 1992
Art of the brush, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Sep 1995–12 Nov 1995
Chinese New Literati Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Aug 1997–05 Oct 1997
Referenced in 7 publications
Edmund Capon, Orientations, 'Modern Chinese Paintings in the Art Gallery of New South Wales: The Shanghai School and its Impact', pg. 104-109, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 104 (colour illus.). fig.1
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 259 (colour illus.).
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Shanghai School and Modern Painting', Sydney, 2003, 166 (colour illus.).
Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Chinese Painting, 'Ren Bonian', Sydney, 1985, 14 (illus.). Cat.no.18
Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Chinese Painting', pg. 42-52, Sydney, 1990, 45 (colour illus.).
Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 12, 13 (illus.). Cat.no. 3.5
Richard, Cradles of Civilisation: China, "Ming and Qing Society: China and the West", J. Smith, Norman, Sep 1994, 163 (colour illus.).