Portrait of Yinxiang, the First Prince Yi (1686-1730)

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, Guangxu reign, 1905
Ink and color on silk
H x W (painting): 186.7 x 121.9 cm (73 1/2 x 48 in) H x W (overall): 248 x 166 cm (97 5/8 x 65 3/8 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, Guangxu reign (1875 - 1908), man, portrait, prince, Pritzlaff collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

Yinxiang received a first-degree princedom and the title Prince Yi from his half brother, who reigned from 1723 to 1735 as the Yongzheng emperor. The prince's yellow robe, which was a color reserved for the emperor's clothing and those to whom he granted the privilege of wearing yellow, also reveals Yinxiang's imperial favor. This portrait belongs to a set (with S1991.86 and S1991.102) that depicts men of other generations who inherited the title Prince Yi, but they did not have the right to wear yellow. These three paintings were made at about the same time, using the same stencil to outline the chairs and the bodies of the sitters. The faces, however, are rendered in radically different styles. Yinxiang, the first prince Yi, is the least realistic of the three, perhaps because he died 175 years before the portrait was commissioned.

After forebears had been dead for more than three generations, they were promoted to the category of "distant ancestors." While displaying portraits of distant ancestors was a way for descendants to honor important kinsmen, they no longer had to dedicate specific rituals to these long-deceased family members.

Published References
  • Thomas W. Lentz. The First Ten Years, the Next Ten Years: The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 43, no. 3 New York. p. 3, fig. 3.
  • Jan Stuart. Calling Back the Ancestor's Shadow: Chinese Ritual and Commemorative Portraits. vol. XLIII no. 3. p. 14, fig. 12.
  • Scientific Studies of Pigments in Chinese Paintings. Washington, DC. pp. 27, 32, 42, 53, 65, figs. 2.11, 3.14, 4.2.
  • Original Intentions, Essays on Production, Reproduction, and Interpretation in the Arts of China. p. 27.
  • Original Intentions: Essays on Production, Reproduction, and Interpretation in the Arts of China. p. 27.
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 101, fig. 4.5.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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