Trivium Art History
Giuseppe Castiglione, 郎世寧
Portraits of Emperor Qianlong, the Empress, and Eleven Imperial Consorts, 1770 — Giuseppe Castiglione, 郎世寧,

Portraits of Emperor Qianlong, the Empress, and Eleven Imperial Consorts

Giuseppe Castiglione, 郎世寧, 1736—1770

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53.80 cm1154.50 cm

This extrordinary scroll was painted over the 34 year reign of Emperor Qianlong. Giuseppe Castiglione began the scroll, painting the emperor, empress, and his first consort — the scroll was completed by other artists from the emperor's court. It is read from right to left, beginning with the emperor himself, followed by the empress, then his eleven 'consorts.' It's a strangely familial portrait, with a quiet tenderness in the faces — and it's clear that Qianlong felt a sense of peace and pride in the decades-long artwork, titling it "Mind Picture of a Well-Governed and Tranquil Reign." From the seals on the scroll, we know that in his old age, after stepping down from the throne, Qianlong opened his scroll to meditate on his life and loves.

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