19th century Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk. 70 1/4 x 41in (178.4 x 104cm)
無款 清朝皇室肖像 設色絹本 立軸
Provenance： acquired in China by an American missionary family before 1945 and thence by descent to the present through a private family collection
Although the identity of the sitter is currently not known, numerous clues in the painting point to an individual of high status within the imperial lineage. Wearing the full court dress and jewelry of a titled lady, she is dressed in her winter robes, with the shoulder cape, collar, cuffs, hem and hat trimmed with strips of sea otter fur. The hat is further adorned with three gold filigree and kingfisher feather phoenix decorated with pearls denoting her status as a princess or consort. The three earrings in each ear point to her being a bannerwoman, and whitened face and dot of red on the lower lip are typical of the make-up trends of elite women within the court. Around her neck is a torque (lingyue), inlaid with coral and Manchurian pearls, an accessory of Manchu women. The torque has five visible pearls of a presumptive seven, less than the eleven that would have been worn by a full empress. Over the lavishly painted robes are the required three strands of her court necklace, crossing at center front, likely made of coral and jade beads. The long green kerchief (caishui) here with a floral motif, was an essential part of formal court regalia as dictated by the Huangchao liqi tushi first written in 1759, and another aspect of her clothing that points to the sitters position within the inner circles of the palace.
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