Yinxiang, Prince Yi (1686–1730), Looking Through a Window

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, Yongzheng reign, 1720s
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 143.5 x 72.5 cm (56 1/2 x 28 9/16 in) H x W (overall): 276 x 104.5 cm (108 11/16 x 41 1/8 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, man, portrait, prince, Pritzlaff collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

The artist's repetition of curves--in the half-moon window, the round back of the chair, the folds of the chair cover--is striking. Even the prince's arms rest in a position with rounded elbows. The total effect softens the stiff frontal pose and underscores the informal nature of this portrait.

The face seems realistically drawn with little attempt at flattery. Another portrait, allegedly of the same man wearing yellow court dress, is also in the Sackler's collection (see S1991.84). Differences more significant than age make it difficult to accept that both portraits depict the same person. This portrait was probably executed during the lifetime of Yinxiang, Prince Yi (1686-1730). In contrast, the other painting was made long after his death as an image to pay homage to Yinxiang as an illustrious ancestor. That portrait did not have to seem realistic because Yinxiang had already been promoted to the category of "distant ancestor," an otherworldly being who did not require individual family rituals.

Published References
  • "La Cité interdite à Monaco: Vie de cour des empereurs et impératrices de Chine." The Forbidden City in Monaco: Imperial Court Life in China. Exh. cat. Paris, France. p. 34, cat. 39.
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 70, fig. 2.15.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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