Shanghai in the nineteenth century was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in all of Asia. It served as a treaty port, first for the British and later for other Western countries, making it one of the main conduits for the importation of Western goods and ideas. The arrival of French, American, and even Japanese contingents created an international atmosphere in Shanghai and brought not only trade but also the mingling of artistic and cultural ideas. Although the treaty ports were a result of the Opium Wars of the 1840s, which forced China to open its doors to the West, they also created a fertile territory for new directions in society. The turmoil and internal strife throughout China during this time of massive decline in the Imperial Qing dynastic house sent many wealthy refugees into the relatively protected areas of the treaty ports. More importantly, individuals interested in the new prospects of trade with the West created their own society whose wealth was based on nontraditional commercial pursuits. This society became a source of patronage for artists who also flocked to Shanghai in pursuit of a new market for their artwork. These artists of the mid-1800s in Shanghai were regarded as a distinct group, known as the Shanghai school (haipai). Their style of painting-its subject matter and its relation to more traditional styles of Chinese painting, as well as the influence of Japan in its development-is the subject of this fall's exhibition in Galleries C and D. The subject matter of most of the works shown here, either bird and flower paintings or figure paintings, is typical of the break these artists made from the long-established literati traditions of landscape painting. Their new patrons were interested in acquiring art that reflected their own lives, that described the natural world, and that favored beauty over intellectual or scholarly pursuits. Patronage in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Shanghai shifted from the imperial or academic spheres to wealthy businessmen-both Chinese and foreign, including a large Japanese contingent-and with this shift came a new attitude toward artists who truly painted for a living and took pride in their professional status. Among the most famous and successful of these was a family of painters named Ren who dominated the Shanghai school from the mid-1800s until the beginning of the twentieth century. The leading painter of this group was Ren Xiong (1823–1857), who is represented in this exhibition by a large hanging scroll in ink and color on paper, Pheasants on a Rock. The painting demonstrates the new direction that the Shanghai school adopted, with its bold, heavily saturated colors, dramatic and tilted ground plane, and sense of quietude to the scene, which has been interpreted as an expression of the somber mood of the times. Ren Xiong, like most of the artists in Shanghai at the time, moved there in order to find new patrons for his art. He was enormously successful, and although he died quite young, his artistic influence was carried through to the end of the century by his students and followers. Another of the influential “four Rens” who shared a surname but was actually unrelated to Ren Xiong was Ren Yi, also known as Ren Bonian (1840–1895). Ren Yi's work shows a talent for unusual compositions that rely on old themes reinterpreted with great creativity. In his Landscape with Scholar and Servant he takes up the traditional subject of the literati tradition and makes it his own through varied, textural brushwork and the use of strong, heavily saturated color that creates visual appeal. It has been suggested that Ren Yi's work in figure painting may have a connection to Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock print designs. Certainly Japanese artists such as Yasuda Rozan, who lived and painted in Shanghai, had developed friendships with artists of Ren Yi's circle, including his mentor and close friend Hu Yuan (1823–1886). Hu's own painting in ink and color on paper, Pine, Rock and Mushroom (1878), shows a simple glimpse of the natural world. Undoubtedly the international atmosphere of Shanghai provided fertile ground for the exchange of artistic traditions. One of the artists most closely associated with the Japanese of Shanghai was Wang Zhen (1867–1938), who had studied with Ren Yi. An unusual man, Wang was both an artist and a comprador for a Japanese company, as well as a devout Buddhist and a known revolutionary. His Album of Figures and Landscapes in this exhibition shows his highly calligraphic style employed in the depiction of ordinary street people and beggars. It is known that he frequently gave his paintings to Japanese friends, and many of his works have been preserved in Japan.