Early 17th C. - The Chinese Emperor and Yang Guifei

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Paintings: Pre 1700: Item # 1110203

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76-16 Tenno-cho, Okazaki, Sakkyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8335



Early 17th C. - The Chinese Emperor and Yang Guifei
A smaller six-fold screen dating to the early 17th century depicting themes from 'The song of everlasting sorrow', a narrative poem by the Chinese poet Bo Juyi (772846) of the Tang dynasty. The poem recounts the tragic story of Emperor Xuanzong (reigned 71256), commonly known as Minghuang, whose excessive love for his beautiful concubine, Yang Guifei (circa 72056), led to intrigue at court and disorder in the empire. Yang Guifei was put to death in 756 during the An Lushan uprising. The passionate love and inconsolable grief portrayed in the Chinese poem found a sympathetic reception in the Japanese imperial court of the Heian period (7941185), where the emotional entanglements of Japanese aristocrats became the theme of The Tale of Genji, an important work of narrative fiction written by a noblewoman, Murasaki Shikibu. Many Japanese screen paintings of the Momoyama (15731615) and early Edo (16151868) periods illustrate the story of Minghuang and Yang Guifei with elegant figures in settings that represent an imaginative and idealized image of the Chinese emperor's household. The enduring allure of this story in the Japanese visual and literary arts reflects both a strong emotional identification with its themes of love, death, and longing, and the persistent idea of Tang dynasty China as a cultural golden age. In this six-fold screen ink, pigments and gofun applied over hand-beaten sheets of gold-leaf depict the sumptuous scene. Certainly some of the facial details have been lost and the colors of the pigments have altered over the course of time, but even so the quality of the work shines through. It would appear that the screen last underwent a full restoration some 100 years ago. Each individual panel was very well restored. Recently hinge and backing paper repairs have been carried out with gaffer tape. This has placed the screen in a ready to display and enjoy condition and will not adversely affect the painting in any way. A full remounting is an option though not essential. The screen stands 47'' high and measures 104'' across (265 by 120 cm).

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