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
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 221
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."
Artist: Maruyama Ōkyo (Japanese, 1733–1795)Date: right screen: 1774; left screen: 1793Medium: Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color and gold on paperAccession: 2015.300.197.1, .2On view in:Gallery 228