Portrait of Lady Wanyan, primary wife of Prince Hongming (1705–1767)

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1767 or later
Medium
Ink and color on silk
Dimensions
H x W (image): 199 × 115.2 cm (78 3/8 × 45 3/8 in) H x W (overall): 305 × 140 cm (120 1/8 × 55 1/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program and partial gift of Richard G. Pritzlaff
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1991.53
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

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

Identical inscriptions with those recorded for S1991.61.
Title slip in Chinese: Portrait of Princess Wanyan, principal wife of the Gong Qin prince of the august Qing dynasty.

Label

When facing an altar with a pair of ancestor portraits hanging above it, the woman's image always appears to the left of her husband's. Altars were supposed to be placed on the north side of a hall, and Chinese ritual regulations dictated that the eastward position was higher in status than the west. In traditional China, men were considered superior to women. Chinese families traced descent through the male line, so it was important to commission portraits of male forebears. Women were honored as mothers. Since most sons were deeply emotionally attached to their mothers, they routinely had portraits of both parents made for ritual veneration.

Although Lady Wanyan's elaborate costume is not full court dress, she wears the jewelry appropriate for formal court occasions. The princess's coronet is decorated with five gold-and-pearl phoenix ornaments that signify her high rank. Touches of blue in her headdress represent jewelry adorned with brilliant blue kingfisher feathers, which was in vogue during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

Museum conservators cleaned and remounted this portrait of Lady Wanyan and that of her husband (see S1991.61). The portrait of Prince Hongming had suffered great water damage, and its colors are now slightly lighter than those in the painting of his wife.

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. Calling Back the Ancestor's Shadow: Chinese Ritual and Commemorative Portraits. vol. XLIII no. 3. p. 8, fig. 2.
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 18, fig. 2.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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