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A pair of paintings depicting episodes from the life of emperor Wu of the Han

  • Ink and colours on silk
  • China
  • Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
  • 17th century
  • 185 x 50 cm
  • Belgian private collection

Description

The two paintings of a large vertical size, nicely painted with bright colours and numerous details.  

The first painting depicts the emperor Wu of the Han receiving immortality peaches from Xiwangmu (“Queen Mother of the West ”), the queen of the daoist immortals. She is painted among the clouds, seating in a trone-carriage under a large parasol. She is with her suite of maids, musicians and fan holders. They are all richly dressed and adorned. In the lower part, the emperor Wu is depicted on a large terrace looking onto a landscape of rocks and trees. The emperor Wu is escorted by dignitaries and servants holding parasol and banners. He is depicted as an old man, with a long white beard, with an orange robe and a red cap. This episode belongs to the Han Wu gushi (漢武故事 “Stories of the emperor Han Wudi ”), a compilation of 53 legendary stories about emperor Wu and ascribed to the 1rst century scholar Ban Gu. 

The second painting shows a suite of horsemen arriving at the door of a palace, and paying tribute to a man with a possibly Korean hat. They are welcomed by an orchestra. While the horsemen are paying homage, a kneeled servant is giving a message to the man at the entrance of the palace.  

The scene is maybe a reference to the ambassad of She He (涉何), send by the emperor Wu to the court of King Ugeo from Korea, during the war between Han dynasty and Wiman Joseon. 

A pair of paintings depicting episodes from the life of emperor Wu of the Han

  • Ink and colours on silk
  • China
  • Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
  • 17th century
  • 185 x 50 cm
  • Belgian private collection

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