Portrait of Shang Kexi (d. 1676)

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 19th-early 20th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (painting): 248.9 × 117.5 cm (98 × 46 1/4 in) H x W (overall): 386.7 × 140 cm (152 1/4 × 55 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, portrait, Pritzlaff collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

When this portrait came out of China in the 1940s, the seller identified the figure as Shang Kexi, a hero of the Manchu conquest, but without other verifiable portraits of this individual to which to compare the Sackler likeness, the identity of the figure is difficult to prove. The gold paper mounted above the portrait is of the highest quality, yet Shang's summer court dress, the absence of a carpet, and the somewhat cursory style of painting suggest this work was produced for a modest price. Summer court dress was less time-consuming to paint than the winter costume, with its meticulously rendered fur.
A publication in 2004 that illustrates a portrait of the same individual depicted in the Sackler Gallery portrait lends substantial support to the identification of the figure as Shang Kexi. 

Published References
  • China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795. Exh. cat. London. fig. 7.
  • "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.27, cat. 36.
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 134, fig. 5.9.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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