China’s First Lady in Cartoons and Oil Painting

By David Li,

Boston, Feb. 27, 2014, 2014, — Peng Liyuan became China’s First Lady when her husband Xi jinping was elected to be the President of China at National People’s Congress in March 2013. She has gained world-wide popularity as she traveled with President Xi on diplomatic missions.

The following is some cartoons by Peng Zhangzheng showing the First Lady in different outfits. The cartoon artist, a 35-year-old woman in Hunan province, has been a fan of the First Lady for many years.

Peng Liyuan was born on Nov. 20, 1962 in Shandong province, China. She joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1980, and became a star singer of Chinese folk songs with her vocal talents. In 1982, She performed nationally for the first time.

Peng went on to study at Central Conservatory of China in Beijing as a graduate student. In 1984, famous Chinese oil painter Jin Shangyi at Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing picked Peng as his model for an oil painting (middle picture below), named Young Singer. Thirty years later, this painting is valued at more than $20 million.

Twenty-two years old Peng Liyuan was just a college student then, and the background was a famous Chinese painting Snow in the Mountain Forrest by Fan Kuan from Song Dynasty. The Young Singer painting is regarded as a significant piece of art work in China as Mr. Jin Shangyi was experimenting new oil painting methods that incorporated key components of traditional Chinese painting. This was the reason why the Snow in the Mountain Forrest was put in the background. In the Young Singer, Mr. Jin did an excellent portrait of China’s future First Lady, and also recreated the traditional Chinese painting from Song Dynasty with his oil painting brush.

In the Field of Hope is among the most famous songs performed by Peng Liyuan, and it was a reflection of the national mood when China was opening up and the economical reform was under way in the 1980s. It was the theme song of a documentary TV series with the same name. The following is a video of the song.

I was fortunate to see Peng Liyuan’s performance in the first row at Harvard University Sanders Theatre in 1998. Other top artists from China like Dong Wenhua, also joined the performance.