Portrait of Lirongbao (fl. late 17th century)

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 18th-19th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 177.6 x 98.6 cm (69 15/16 x 38 13/16 in) H x W (overall): 337 x 136 cm (132 11/16 x 53 9/16 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

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

A member of the prominent Manchu Fuca clan, Lirongbao was the least successful of four brothers, all of whom attained high office. Lirongbao, however, was eventually promoted to first-rank official, but this honor came after his death as the result of his daughter's marriage to the prince who later became the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736--96). When the daughter was promoted to the rank of empress in 1737, Lirongbao's own rank was posthumously elevated to the highest level. The crane badge on his surcoat and the five-clawed dragons on the skirt of his court dress (chaofu) attest to his lofty position. A portrait of his wife is in the Sackler's collection (S1991.129).

Posthumous promotion was a common method for emperors to reward outstanding officials, and from the Chinese Confucian point of view, such promotions were a way for virtuous descendants to heap honor on their ancestors. Promotions in rank naturally called for new paintings of the sitter wearing the clothing appropriate for his higher status. This practice increased the demand for posthumous portraits.

Published References
  • Hans Konig, Michael Franses. Glanz Der Himmelssohne Kaiserliche Teppiche Aus China 1400-1750: Exhibition in Köln, Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst, October 15, 2005 - January 15, 2006. Exh. cat. Koln. .
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 161, fig. 6.8.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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