The coin pictured is part of a series of eight commemorative coins, three gold and five silver, issued in 1997 which feature the modern Chinese master artist, Qi Baishi (1864-1957). Featured on the obverse faces of the coins in this series is the same portrait of Qi Baishi. Featured on the reverse faces are a selection of his artworks. The coins in this series are all proof coins with purities of 99.9%.
Displayed above is the 5 oz gold coin from the series. It is 60mm in diameter, has a face value of 500 yuan and a mintage of only 99 pieces. The obverse face features a portrait of Qi Baishi, above which is inscribed in Chinese: “The People’s Republic of China”. To the left of the portrait, also in Chinese, is the inscription: “Chinese Master Painter Qi Baishi 1864-1957”. Below the image is inscribed the year of issue, 1997.
The portrait featured on the obverse face of the coin depicts the artist wearing his characteristic round spectacles. He is shown with balding hair and a long beard. Qi Baishi was born into a peasant family in Hunan and initially trained as a carpenter at the age of 14. He was largely a self taught artist with little formal training. His early work was influenced greatly by the Qing Dynasty artist Bada Shanren (1626-1705) and the Ming Dynasty painter Xu Wei (1521-1593). Qi’s work was characterised by playful and seemingly casual brushstrokes in watercolour, with a wide variety of subject matter including animals, plants, landscapes, and figures. He became an established artist in his home province of Hunan, but it was not until he reached the age of 40 before he started to travel around seeking artistic inspiration. He eventually settled in Beijing where he painted the landscapes he had seen on his travels. He died there in 1957 aged 93.
The reverse face features Qi Baishi’s work entitled “Picture of Great Profit”. It depicts a cricket perched on top of a huge basket of fresh lychees. An inscription of the face value, 500 yuan, appears to the left of the picture.
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