Li Yinzu (1629 – 1664)

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 18th-19th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (painting): 222.7 x 100.1 cm (87 11/16 x 39 7/16 in) H x W (overall without jiku): 321 x 132.7 cm (126 3/8 x 52 1/4 in) W (with jiku): 142.9 cm (56 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, portrait, Pritzlaff collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Li Yinzu came from a prominent banner family of Korean origins and served the Qing court in various provincial posts during the 1650s. A label on the reverse of the painting states that this is a posthumously created portrait of Li Yinzu, whose many official titles included Grand Master for Splendid Happiness and Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent. This portrait, created so long after Li's death, depicts him with stark realism, as seen in the dark, pockmarked skin. Faces are almost always portrayed in exceptional detail in ancestor portraits, but after a forebear had been deceased for more than three generations and had been deemed a "distant ancestor," painstaking fidelity was no longer required.

In imperial China, descendants did not perform individual rituals for long-dead ancestors but rather held a general ceremony dedicated to them. Therefore, portraits of the long departed were often somewhat generalized. Here, however, Li Yinzu's distinctive features were emphasized even though the portrait was painted generations after his death.

Published References
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 162, fig. 6.9.
  • The Secret of the Joseon Portraits. Exh. cat. Korea. cat. 143, p. 208.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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