Yuan Jiang (Chinese, active ca. 1690–ca. 1746)
Set of twelve hanging scrolls; ink and color on silk
H. 81 1/2 in. (207 cm), W. 221 3/4 in. (563.2 cm)
Inscribed by the artist
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1982 (1982.125)
Yuan Jiang, a successful professional artist in his native Yangzhou, specialized in intricately described visions of palatial architecture set within sumptuous blue-and-green landscapes. In reviving the monumental landscape style of the Tang and Song dynasties, Yuan also catered to a taste for large-scale hanging scrolls and multipanel screen paintings to decorate the ostentatious mansions of Yangzhou's mercantile elite.
This screenlike set of scrolls depicts the opulent eighth-century imperial palace north of modern-day Xi'an. Destroyed by the end of the Tang dynasty (618906), the Palace of Nine Perfections (Jiucheng Gong) is remembered as one of the most splendid residences ever built, with grounds so vast that it was necessary to travel by horseback between halls. Royal palaces have always been likened to Daoist paradises, and Yuan's vision plays on this theme, with Qing-style palatial buildings set in a fantastic landscape that suggests the enchanted realm of the immortals.
1. A musical performance.
2. A painted screen.
3. Main hall with lotus pond.
4. Horsemen riding along a covered corridor.
5. An imperial procession (the emperor is accompanied by a parasol bearer).
6. Viewing clouds and blossoming trees.