A blue-robed figure on horseback pauses on the verandah of a riverside pavilion. The same color picks out two females, one on the verandah, the other in the pavilion above; he is probably the emperor, the two females his favorites at the moment. The emperor is about to depart on a hunt, and bends down to accept a stirrup cup from one of the court ladies; he is at the front of a file of horsemen, the last of whom carries a hawk on his right fist. The foreground scene is crowded with male attendants, courtiers, guards and court ladies of various statuses while other ladies and attendants appear in the pavilion. Rocks, trees, and a lotus pond in front, willow trees above, and the roof of a palace structure rising above the clouds in the distance frame the scene.
The picture is somewhat reminiscent of Southern Sung Academy works (figs. 1-2) but is closer in approach to works by the Ming master Ch’iu Ying (d. 1552) (figs. 3-4). Some important part of the value of works such as the present ‘Palace Scene’ was their ability to recall the glories of past ages, such as the Sung, and in that the present painter succeeded admirably, producing a fine narrative work that in addition carries connotations of the elegant activities associated with the imperial court.
Fig. 1. Anonymous: ‘Greeting the Emperor at Wang-hsien Village,’ after Chung-kuo Mei-shu Ch’uan-chi, Hui-hua Pien, Beijing, 1988, vol. 4, pl. 19.
Fig. 2. Chao Po- chu, att.: ‘The Han Palace,’ after Chung- kuo Mei-shu Ch’uan- chi, Hui-hua Pien, Beijing, 1988, vol. 4, pl. 131.
Fig. 3. Ch’iu Ying: ‘Planting Bamboo,’ after Ku-kung Shu-hua T’u-lu, Taipei, 1991, vol. 7, p. 277.
Fig. 4. Ch’iu Ying: ‘The Eighteen Scholars at Ying-chou,’ after Ku-kung Shu-hua T’u-lu, Taipei, 1991, vol. 7, p. 283.