In her depiction of state-of-the-art household goods entitled Still Life, oil painter Qiu Ti presented a timely contribution to the sophisticated art world of 1930s Shanghai. Initially displayed at the 1935 exhibition of the Storm Society, a modernist painting group, her painting continues to enjoy recognition today as a work of artistic significance. The sociopolitical forces behind its creation, however, remain little understood. Closer scrutiny of the image and its contextual milieu elucidate the impact of nationalism on the life and work of this important artist. Examining how Still Life appeased Republican-period anxieties about women citizens' consumption of commercial products while registering the art community's call for “art for life's sake,” this article contends that Qiu Ti's selection of subject matter was a response to the pressures she encountered as a woman artist during an age of intense social reform.

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