Ancestor portrait of Tan Kim Seng

This ancestor portrait is of Tan Kim Seng (1805-1864), a third generation Malaccan Peranakan. An eminent community leader and philanthropist in Malacca and Singapore, he provided funds in aid of numerous public projects in both places. These include a main thoroughfare in Singapore (Kim Seng Road) and bridges in Singapore and Malacca.Early portraits of Chinese merchants in Singapore and Malaysia were usually done on paper and painted in watercolour. Most portraits were usually painted after the death of the patriach or matriach and the face painted onto a generic ancestor portrait. This style of ancestor portrait is different - it is an oil painting, painted in the European style - exhibiting the unique fusion culture of wealthy Peranakan Chinese in nineteenth century Singapore.