From the Collection of A. W. Bahr, Purchase, Fletcher Fund, 1947
Not on view
In the early twelfth century the court artist Zhang Zeduan painted a handscroll depicting the Northern Song capital of Bianliang (Kaifeng) at the time of the Spring Festival (Qingming jie). Zhang's painting, which lovingly and minutely describes the daily life of the capital's inhabitants, became the paradigm for more than forty later evocations of this theme. This version, which is longer, compositionally more complex, and more brilliantly colored than the Song original, reflects the stylistic innovations of the Suzhou professional painter Qiu Ying (ca. 1495–1552), whose signature has been added at the end. But there are several reasons for assigning the scroll to a later date. Not only is the execution less meticulous than that of genuine works by Qiu, but the addition of elaborate palaces, a display of horsemanship and archery skills, an imperial procession, and a hunt— none of which appear in the original—point to the influence of imperially sponsored commemorative paintings that originated with the Southern Inspection Tour of the Kangxi emperor (r. 1662–1722).