Scenes from The Story of the Western Wing

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Artist: Traditionally attributed to Qiu Ying 仇英 (ca. 1494-1552)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 18th-19th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (leaf a): 18.5 x 38 cm (7 5/16 x 14 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting


banana tree, blue-and-green style, China, garden, horse, landscape, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), rock, The Story of the Western Wing, woman
Provenance information is currently unavailable

In Chinese literature, gardens sometimes serve as a setting for romantic assignations. The scene illustrates an episode in a popular love story, which became the subject of a play titled The Story of the Western Wing. While touring a Buddhist temple, an aspiring young scholar stumbles across two female lodgers, Oriole (Cui Yingying) and her maid Crimson (Hongniang), and he becomes immediately enamored with Oriole. Having received a suggestive written response to his overtures, he scales the wall of Oriole's garden one night. There, Crimson waits to lead him to her mistress, who plans to scold the youth for his forwardness. With its trellised flowering vines, broad-leafed banana trees, and large decorative rock, the temple courtyard is indistinguishable from one found in a typical domestic compound and lends the composition a sense of intimacy.

Published References
  • Osvald Siren. Gardens of China. New York. pl. 91a, f.
  • James Cahill. Pictures for Use and Pleasure: Vernacular Painting in High Qing China. Berkeley and Los Angeles. pp. 134-135, fig. 4.34.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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