Portrait of Guanglu, Prince Yu (1706-1785)

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty or Modern period, Qianlong reign or later, ca. 1785, or later copy
Ink and color on silk
H x W (painting): 214.5 x 115 cm (84 7/16 x 45 1/4 in) H x W (overall): 363 x 192 cm (142 15/16 x 75 9/16 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, Modern period (1912 - present), portrait, prince, Pritzlaff collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

The grand throne and ornately patterned carpet create a princely setting appropriate for the commemoration of Guanglu, an imperial kinsman, on his eightieth birthday. The inscription records an imperial poem and the congratulations that one of the emperor's sons and several grandsons conveyed to Guanglu. The painting memorializes a birthday, but it was most likely commissioned by Guanglu's son for use in ancestral rites. As with most ancestor portraits, nothing in the style reveals whether it was commissioned posthumously or painted during Guanglu's life.

The inscription reads: Poem Presented by the Emperor to Imperial Prince Yu with Best Wishes for Long Life on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday

Recalling how few share with Us the same great-grandfather,
As old age comes, others of old age become more dear.
Your springs-and-autumns are exactly more than Ours by five,
May good fortune and longevity attend your eightieth birthday.
Your archery, elder brother, now yields to your sinews' strength,
Though We can still exert the energy for the springtime hunt.
Stay seated to receive the obeisance of Our son and grandsons,
That praise of Our celestial family may last ten-thousand springs.
In the fiftieth year of the Qianlong reign, the yisi year, on the twenty-
seventh day of the sixth lunar-month [August 1, 1785], was the grand
celebration of the eightieth birthday of the prince, my deceased father.
On that day he received a hanging scroll with this poem by the Emperor,
who also commanded that [his imperial] son and grandsons should    
come bearing robes and jade and bringing goblets and viands, and          
commanding that the prince, my deceased father, should stay seated to            
receive their obeisances, which is truly the most extraordinary honors              
ever bestowed.Respectfully written above the court portrait of the prince,          
my deceased father, that it may be recorded and never perish.

Translated by Stephen D. Allee

Published References
  • Jan Stuart, Evelyn S. Rawski. Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits. Exh. cat. Washington and Stanford. p. 149, fig. 6.3.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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