This image of an elegant elderly lady shows how the Chinese portrait painter conveyed a sense of status through a figure's accoutrements. The lady's wealth is suggested by her jewelry (gold-and-pearl earrings and an ornate headdress fashioned out of gold and kingfisher feathers), by her sumptuous outer robe of blue brocade and white underrobe fastened at the neck by gold clasps, and by the red-and-gold brocaded cloth draped over the back of her chair. Her family status is further underscored by the official belt inset with elaborately worked plaques and the large rank badge with Manchurian cranes-the insignia of a civil official of the highest rank. Since women were not eligible to hold government office, these marks of rank were probably inherited from her father.
Inscription: No artist's inscription, signature, or seal
[ Bluett & Sons Ltd. , London, 1959; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Portraits of the Court of China," November 27, 1942–February 28, 1943.
New Haven. Yale University Art Gallery. "At the Dragon Court: Chinese Embroidered Mandarin Squares from the Schuyler V.R. Cammann Collection (Yale University Art Museum)," March 25, 1993–July 31, 1993.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Millennium of Chinese Painting: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," September 8, 2001–January 13, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.