Xu Yang was recruited as a court painter in 1751 and became one of the Qianlong Emperor’s leading artists, culminating with his being selected in 1764 to execute the Qianlong Southern Inspection Tour. This intimate fan painting shows Xu working in a miniaturist style and a decorative blue-and-green technique that differs markedly from his typically grand imperial commissions. According to the artist’s long inscription, Xu was commanded by the emperor to paint this work as a birthday gift to a Mr. Li.
Fanciful images of Daoist paradises were suitably auspicious subjects for birthday gifts. Using the archaic blue-and-green landscape style, Xu demonstrates his mastery of this mode with dense mineral colors accented with gold highlights and detailed renderings of architectural forms.
Inscription: Artist's inscription and signature (11 columns in standard scrip)