Children at Play Ink and colour on silk, horizontal scroll Inscribed and signed Leng Mei 114.5cm x 225.5cm (45in x 88¾in).
Leng Mei was an early Qing court artist who studied painting under the tutelage of fellow court artist Jiao Bingzhen. In the thirtieth year of the Kangxi era (1691) he contributed to the production of the twelve scrolls depicting Kangxi Emperor's southern inspection tour and later in the fifty-third year of the Kangxi era (1714) participated in the court sponsored depiction of the lavish celebration of the Kangxi Emperor's birthday. The present work Children at Play is composed on a horizontal axis on a massive scale, at 114.5cm tall and 225cm wide. Of vibrant and brilliant colour, it depicts numerous children amidst gardens and rockery, raucously playing games amidst the lush foliage. The work is extremely densely composed, with seemingly little to no empty space. Upon close inspection, these frolicking dozens of children are all male, without a single little girl. According to research compiled by Nie Chongzheng at the Beijing Palace Museum, this image was likely completed during the Yongzheng era, for the future Qianlong Emperor Hongli during his regency as Prince Bao.
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