[Caption: This is one of several of Liu
Rushi's paintings that are held at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
Last year I wrote a blog post citing the relation between those paintings and a
20th century French Diplomat Jean-Pierre Dubosc, and explaining why
I featured this poet-courtesan as a protagonist in my new novel Tales of Ming Courtesans. https://bit.ly/3hA9HRE ]
On a personal level, Liu was determined to seek proper marriage against all odds, as she knew this was the only way to defend herself against class discrimination. She succeeded in gaining “wife status” in literary dignitary Qian Qianyi’s household.
The multi-talented Liu Rushi was also known for her habit of cross-dressing and mingling with elitist literati in poetry societies in defiance of gender barriers and with an aim to improving her craft of writing and painting. It reminds me of the renowned 19th century French novelist George Sand, also notable for her cross-dressing in rebellion against social conventions. But Liu lived two centuries earlier, and in patriarchal China!
This all goes to show how Liu used her “spirit of independence and liberal thinking” to wage war on classism and sexism and to achieve greatness in the arts. It earned her the iconic historian Chen Yinke’s adoration and respect. http://chinese.thu.edu.tw/upload/newspaper_upload/28/05-%E5%BB%96%E7%BE%8E%E7%8E%89.pdf