Palace Ladies and Children

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Artist: Ding Guanpeng (active 1726-after 1770)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, mid-18th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 17.4 x 93.5 cm (6 7/8 x 36 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Transfer from the United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


child, China, court, playing, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), reading, woman, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

This minature handscroll, called a sleeve scroll because it can be easily carried in one's costume, depicts a group of Manchu court women and their children as they gather informally in a garden of the summer palace. In miniature scale and pale, delicate colors, the painter offers a glimpse into the most sacred of the inner chambers of the imperial palaces, chambers into which, theoretically, only one man was permitted to enter: the emperor (eunuchs being an exception). Whether Ding Guanpeng was ever actually admitted into these inner sanctums is not known, but painters like Ding were expected to paint portraits of the imperial family and were occasionally permitted to enter otherwise forbidden areas.

The emperor ordered this painting, as is indicated by the painter's signature in the lower left corner. Ding Guanpeng was a versatile court master, specializing in religious and secular figure subjects, as well as scenes of court life.

Published References
  • Scientific Studies of Pigments in Chinese Paintings. Washington, DC. p. 45, fig. 3.3.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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