The Golden Key: Modern Women Artists and Gender Negotiations in Republican China (1911-1949)


The first monograph devoted to women artists of the Republican period, The Golden Key recovers the history of a groundbreaking yet forgotten force in China's modern art world. Through its detailed examination of the lives and careers of six female artists—Guan Zilan, Qiu Ti, Pan Yuliang, Fang Junbi, Yu Feng, and Liang Baibo—this book argues that women were central to the emergence of modernist art in early twentieth-century China and to the nation’s larger modernization project. Amanda S. Wangwright’s analysis of a wealth of primary sources demonstrates how these women constructed public personas, negotiated space within art societies, applied feminist thought to their artistic praxis, and surmounted obstacles to their careers—wielding art as the “golden key” to professional advancement and gender equality.

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Preliminary Material
Pages: i–xiv
By Any Other Name
Pages: 34–57
Nude Ambition
Pages: 58–75
Embattled Careers
Pages: 76–99
Pages: 113–138
Pages: 139–147
Pages: 148–153
Amanda S. Wangwright, Ph.D. (2011), University of Kansas, is associate professor at the University of South Carolina. She has published on twentieth-century Chinese art, its transnational patronage networks, conceptualizations of gender and the body, and unfolding canonization.
"Wangwright’s work significantly advances an emerging area of scholarship: the study of 20th-century art of China and particularly the underrepresented work of women artists during the period. SECAC is honored to recognize Wangwright’s immense scholarly accomplishments and contribution to the field of art history." - SECAC on Amanda Wangwright winning the 2021 SECAC Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research and Publication (

"This book is an excellent addition to studies of modern Chinese art and brings much-needed attention to female artists and their contribution not only to artistic development but also to issues of marginalization." Sandy Ng in: Sehepunkte 22.7-8 (2022), (
All interested in global modern art, early twentieth century East Asian history, and gender studies, and anyone focused on modern Chinese art, the Republican period, and women artists.
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