Portrait of Prince Hongming (1705–1767)

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1767 or later
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 200.8 x 115.4 cm (79 1/16 x 45 7/16 in) H x W (overall): 288.2 x 132.1 cm (113 7/16 x 52 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, dragon, portrait, prince, Pritzlaff collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

This ancestor portrait of Prince Hongming and the one of his wife (see S1991.53) bear inscriptions in Chinese and Manchu (right and left, respectively) written by a devoted son. The texts are dated to 1767, the year of the prince's death. Most ancestor portraits were created around the time of the subject's death, and they were often painted as a matched pair, with the same carpet, chair, and brocade chair cover. Sometimes creation of a pair of ancestor portraits was delayed until both spouses had died, or two portraits were painted at once but the face of the still-living spouse was left blank. Also, the second portrait could have been painted much later with the setting copied from the first portrait.

Inscriptions are not always a firm guide for dating an ancestor portrait because many paintings were copied over the years, especially if they had become damaged. The strong highlights on the faces and clothing in this pair of portraits suggest they might have been painted in the second half of the nineteenth century rather than in 1767.

The prince wears semiformal, winter court dress. The dragon badge on his coat announces his court rank, and the open side vents reveal drawstring pouches and a white scarf hanging from his belt on both left and right. These are typical male costume accessories worn during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

Museum conservators cleaned and remounted the portrait of Lady Wanyan (S1991.53) and this portrait of Hongming. 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. 1.
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 19, 27, fig. 3.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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