A set of four very unusual paintings on paper shows bizarre situations which have never been represented before (Fig.1 to 4). It looks as if the artist was poking fun at the decline and decadent conditions in contemporary society. His brushwork is incisive and the compositions, in which some use is made of Western perspective, are most original. In addition, the expression on the faces of the various persons has been strikingly represented.
On the first picture (Fig.1) we see an open space in a village. Here a group itinerant acrobats perform all sorts of spectacular tricks, while at the same time having sex with each other. Enthusiastic onlookers throw coins into a dish held by one of the acrobats between his feet.
This second scene (Fig.2) takes place in the hall of a luxurious bordello, where six men and one woman are entangled in an orgy. Some men have formed a line and are violating each other. Look at their various skin colors and spotted bald heads, which suggest some form of skin disease. Three small boys who would clearly like to join in the party have brought up a bench so that they can get on a level with the men.
The third picture (Fig.3) shows a bare room where a poorly-dressed prostitute lies smoking opium, while she is being taken by her client. The pair is surrounded by brazen villagers watching, including children and a beggar. In the background children are driving a dog into a corner.
The last design (Fig.4) of the set portrays a dissipated company in a seedy brothel of the very lowest class. The artist gives his fantasy full rein in the depiction of the unusual sexual extravagances that are taking place. We see voluptuous vagabonds who are occupied with a prostitute, while one of them wants to make love to his comrade.
An aged crippled lady with a child is taken from behind, and in the middle of the room a boy tries to penetrate a muzzled dog. A beggar in a state of arousal is masturbating in the background. Several of those present suffer from diseases of the eyes and skin conditions which have caused their hair to fall out. A lamp lying on the floor suggests that this room is also used for smoking opium.
Source: 'Concubines and Courtesans - Women in Chinese erotic art' by F.M. Bertholet