Palace hanging with embroidered dragon and lotus pattern

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 1

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At A Glance

  • Period

    early-mid 18th century
  • Geography

  • Material

    Silk embroidered with silk and metallic threads
  • Dimension

    H x W: 209 x 216.3 cm (82 5/16 x 85 3/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    Yellow silk panel consisting of two widths of cloth with a vertical seam on the left side (textile is presumably a fragment of a larger panel that originally consisted of three widths of cloth). Textile is embroidered with a pattern of five, five-clawed, gold-thread dragons (central one faces forward, four profile dragons arranged two to each side). A stylized lotus meander embroidered in polychrome silk threads (mostly white, blue, green, brown, and red threads) fills the rest of the main field. An especially elaborate, fully opened blossom in pink, red, and white appears over the central dragon's head. The center "seed pod" of each lotus flower is shaped like a doube "ruyi." The bottom border is filled with cresting waves punctuated by three, three-pronged mountains and studded with auspicious objects (jewels, coral, rhino horns, and ribboned scrolls). The top border is blank (and was once folded over, thus showing a different yellow than the rest of the textile). A light-weight, cloud-pattern lining is attached to the reverse.
  • Provenance

    By 1946 to no later than 1948
    Wu Laixi ??? (d. ca.1949-1950) reportedly acquired several objects from decedents of noble Chinese families [1]
    By 1948 to 1991
    Richard G. Pritzlaff (1902-1997), from Wu Laixi, mode of acquisition unknown [2]
    From 1991
    The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery acquired through partial gift and partial purchase from Richard G. Pritzlaff [3]
    [1] Wu Laixi ??? (alternate romanization: Wu Lai-hsi) was an antiquities dealer who often sold high-quality, imperial goods sourced from Chinese nobles, among other sources. Active in the 1930s and 1940s, Wu Laixi purchased portraits in China, reportedly for his personal collection and for resale; he took great pride in his collection, labeling himself as the first collector of Chinese ancestor portraits.
    In 1937, Wu sold portraits to the American, Richard G. Pritzlaff, who was visiting China. Pritzlaff and Wu remained in touch for the remainder of Wu's life. This portrait was one of those sold in 1937, according to conversation between Jan Stuart and Richard Pritzlaff in 1990 held at Pritzlaff's New Mexican Ranch. See also Jan Stuart & Evelyn S. Rawski, Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits (Stanford & Washington: Stanford University Press with Smithsonian Institution, 2001), 22.
    [2] See note 2. Richard G. Pritzlaff was a collector of Chinese art and a rancher who initially raised cattle but then became a well-known breeder of Arabian horses. When studying landscape architecture at University of California at Berkeley and then at Harvard, he developed an interest in China. He traveled there in 1937 and began collecting Chinese objects. For Pritzlaff's account of how he acquired his collection, see letter addressed "Dear Sir" from Pritzlaff, October12, 1988, copy in accession file.
    Wu sent this painting to Pritzlaff in May 1946. See letters from Wu Laixi to Pritzlaff, May 8, 1946, copy in accession file.
    For information about the three shipments from Wu to Pritzlaff, see letters from Wu to Pritzlaff, September 4, 1940; June 27, 1941; June 17, 1947; and August 6, 1948, copies in accession file.
    [3] For the deed of gift and purchase arrangement, see accession file.
  • Collection

    National Museum of Asian Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    The Arts of China (November 18, 1990 to September 7, 2014)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Wu Laixi 吳賴熙 (died ca. 1950)
    Richard G. Pritzlaff (1902-1997)
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff
  • Type

    Costume and Textile
  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

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