Empress Dowager Cixi Ink and colour on silk, hanging scroll Inscribed and signed Zhao Tong, with one seal of the artist 108.5cm x 61cm (42¾in x 24in).
Provenance: formerly in the collection of Dr. Issac Taylor Headland, Hawaii.
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) fervently believed in Buddhism. In her late years, she regarded herself as the reincarnated Bodhisattva of Compassion (Guanyin Pusa) and a figure of benevolence to her people. She was addressed as 'The Venerable Buddha' (Lao Foye) both in the Qing court and amongst the civilians. In old age, Empress Dowager Cixi often posed for photographs dressed as the Bodhisattva of Compassion. These pictures were mostly taken between 1902 and 1908 around the time when the Empress Dowager turned 70.
Zhao Tong was a court painter who served at the Hall of Fulfilled Wishes (Ruyi Guan) in the late Qing dynasty. Very few extant works remain to this day.
Isaac Taylor Headland (1859-1942) was a professor at Peking University and had lived in China for more than 20 years. He had authored several books on Chinese society and court life from the late Qing dynasty to the early Republican period, notably Court Life in China: The Capital, Its Officials and People, which was published in 1909.
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