Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Emperor Xuanzong's Flight to Shu, Song dynasty, mid-12th century
    China
    Hanging scroll

    ink, color on silk; 32 5/8 x 44 3/4 in. (82.8 x 113.6 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1941 (41.138)

    In 745, after thirty-three years of able rule, the Tang emperor Xuanzong (r. 712–56) fell in love with the concubine Yang Guifei and became indifferent to his duties. When Yang's favorite general, An Lushan, rebelled in 755, Yang Guifei was blamed. Forced to flee from the capital at Xi'an to the safety of Shu (Sichuan Province), the emperor was confronted by mutinous troops demanding the execution of his lover. Reluctantly assenting, Xuanzong witnessed the act in horror and shame and abdicated soon after. This painting depicts the somber imperial entourage after the execution. While the accoutrements of the figures are Tang, the painting's landscape style of intricately described volumetric forms and mist-suffused atmosphere suggests a mid-twelfth-century date.

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    Emperor Xuanzong's Flight to Shu, Song dynasty, mid-12th century
    China
    Hanging scroll

    ink, color on silk; 32 5/8 x 44 3/4 in. (82.8 x 113.6 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1941 (41.138)


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