Page:Inside Canton.djvu/173

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what this means?" but he bit his lips and held his peace. Having nothing better to do, I spent my time in examining the pictures, which bore no resemblance to those well-known water-colour products of Cantonese art which are shipped to Europe. They were real Chinese paintings, done for the Chinese. One of them, representing a woman, seemed to me to exaggerate the type adopted by Celestial artists to such a degree, that I begged Callery to ask Pan-se-Chen if it was a portrait. The mandarin drew himself up, with great vivacity, in front of the picture I was examining, and passing his finger up and down over the surface, said:—

"Nature, in her creations, can never be the true rival of Art; she is powerless to produce anything so perfect. Observe these sloping eyes, how they incline to a point towards the nose! And that mouth, which is so small that a grain of rice would cover it! I speak not of feet, for this picture has none[1]—it is not a woman; it is the loveliest bird under heaven! If such a piece of perfection really existed, the Emperor could not buy her with all his treasures. But I tell you the daughters of men can

  1. We apprehend the great man did not intend to convey that the "bird" was, speaking au pied de la lettre, footless; but that her "golden lilies" had been tapered away by the sovereign will of creative art till they had merged in her legs!—T.