Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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清 徐揚 等 乾隆南巡圖 (第六卷﹕大運河至蘇州) 卷
The Qianlong Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Six: Entering Suzhou along the Grand Canal

Artist:
Xu Yang (Chinese, active ca. 1750–after 1776) and assistants
Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
dated 1770
Culture:
China
Medium:
Handscroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Image: 27 1/8 in. x 784 1/2 in. (68.8 x 1994 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1988
Accession Number:
1988.350a–d
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 216
The court painter Xu Yang, a native of Suzhou, was commissioned by the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736–95) to record in twelve monumental handscrolls the emperor's historic 1751 tour of south China. This scroll, the longest of the twelve, chronicles the lavish pageantry of the emperor's arrival in Suzhou.

The careful attention to detail offers a rare opportunity to observe the daily life and activities of an eighteenth-century Chinese city. People, residences, shops, famous temples, and renowned scenic gardens and sites reflect the artist's intimate knowledge and love of his hometown. The influence of Western art on court taste is evident in the use of perspective and foreshortening in architectural details. Grand Secretary Yu Minzhong inscribed the beginning of the painting with a poem about Suzhou composed by the Qianlong emperor. Palace archives reveal that Xu Yang began a draft of this set of scrolls in 1764 and completed the silk version in time for the emperor's sixtieth birthday, in 1770.
Inscription: No artist’s inscription, signature, or seal

Other inscription

Yu Minzhong 于敏中(1714–1779), 17 columns in semi-cursive and standard scripts, undated; 2 seals:

牙檣春日駐姑蘇,為問民風豈自娛。
艷舞新歌翻覺鬧,老扶幼挈喜相趨。
周諮歲計云秋有,旋察官方道弊無。
入耳信疑還各半,可誠萬眾慶恬愉。
御製駐蹕姑蘇作,臣于敏中奉勑敬書。 [印]: 臣于敏中、 依光日月

Label strips

1. Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, undated (carved on cinnabar lacquer scroll box):

Painting of the Southern Inspection Tour, [scroll] six

《南巡圖》, 巳

2. Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, ca. 1770 (on brocade wrapper):

Painting of the Southern Inspection Tour, [scroll] six

《南巡圖》, 巳

Collector’s seals

Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–1795)
De xiangwai yi 得象外意
Hanjing weidao 含經味道
Wufuwudai Tang guxi tianzi zhi bao 五福五代堂古稀天子之寳
Bazheng maonian zhi bao 八徴耄念之寳
Tiandi wei shi 天地為師
Bihua chunyu 筆華春雨
Nie Chongzheng 聶崇正. “Xi Bolin guan Qing gongtinghua ji 西柏林觀清宮廷畫記” (Viewing Qing Court Paintings in Western Berlin). Gugong bowuyuan yuankan 故宮博物院院刊33 (1986), pp. 62–63.

Hearn, Maxwell K. “Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1988-1989.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 47 (1989), no. 2, p. 85.

Feng Mingzhu 馮明珠. Qianlong Huangdi de wenhua daye 乾隆皇帝的文化大業 (Emperor Qianlong’s Grand Cultural Enterprise). Taipei: National Palace Museum, 2002, pp. 20–21, cat. no. 1-3.

Wang Hongjun 王宏鈞. Qianlong Nanxuntu yanjiu 乾隆南巡圖研究 (Research into the Handscrolls of the Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour). Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 2010.

Sotheby’s New York. Fine Chinese Paintings. November 30, 1988, lot 71 (ill. with box also ill. in color plates XVII, XVIII and cover).

Ho, Chuimei and Bennet Bronson. Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong. Exh. cat. London; New York: Merrell Publishers Limited, 2004, p. 100, cat. no. 110.

Cahill, James. Pictures for Use and Pleasure: Vernacular Painting in High Qing China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010, pp. 140–142, figs. 4.39, 4.40, 4.43.

Fong, Wen C. and James C.Y. Watt. Possessing the Past: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996, pp. 182–93, 227, cat. no. 38.
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