Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Kangxi period (1662–1722)
late 17th century
Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl and gold-foil inlay
9 ft. 4 5/8 in. × 24 ft. 8 1/16 in. (286.1 × 752 cm)
Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 2001
Not on view
In China, images of a romanticized world, where elegant women spend their time dancing and playing music, often have historical overtones. Many such scenes are thought to allude to the richness of court life during the Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220), an endless source for the antiquarian interests of the seventeenth century. Some also illustrate the tragic story of the beautiful Wang Zhaojun, who was sent by Emperor Yuan (reigned 75–33 B.C.) to marry a Xiongnu chieftain in an attempt to pacify these powerful barbarians. Although this screen does not show the standard scene of a painter rendering her image, it is interesting to note that a single horse is depicted standing beneath a willow tree in the center. This animal may represent Wang’s imminent departure from her safe, and luxurious, life at the court to the less sheltered world of the grasslands in the distant north.
Inscription: On the lower left side of the screen is an inlaid inscription with two seals. The inscription of eight characters reads: moling xianlinge zhuren zhi, giving the sobriquet of the owner or maker. The round seal reads: Yongshou tang (Hall of eternal longevity) and the square seal gives the name: "seal [of] Jiang Renfu."
(round seal) 永壽堂
(square seal) 江仁輔印
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cultivated Landscapes: Reflections of Nature in Chinese Painting with Selections from the Collection of Marie-Hélène and Guy Weill," September 10, 2002–February 9, 2003.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mother-of-Pearl: A Tradition in Asian Lacquer," December 2, 2006–April 1, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: Painted and Carved," 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Excellence and Elegance: Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth-Century Qing Court," August 25, 2007–November 25, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: An Introduction," December 4, 2007–May 11, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Red and Black: Chinese Lacquer, 13th–16th Century," September 7, 2011–June 10, 2012.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Introduction to Chinese Lacquer," December 11, 2013–July 6, 2014.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century," August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016.