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A MAGNIFICENT LARGE IMPERIAL COURT PORTRAIT OF WU FU, BRIGADIER GENERAL OF GANSU REGION

Details
A MAGNIFICENT LARGE IMPERIAL COURT PORTRAIT OF WU FU, BRIGADIER GENERAL OF GANSU REGION
QIANLONG, DATED SPRING OF GENGCHEN YEAR, CORRESPONDING TO A.D. 1760 AND OF THE PERIOD

The painting is executed in ink and colour on silk and depicts the military offical, Wu Fu, standing astride wearing an official's hat, holding a quiver containing long arrows over his right shoulder, both his arms are raised, the left hand holding a bow with the right hand drawing back the bow-string, the archer's ring is worn on the right thumb, the portrait has a dedication written above the yellow silk in both Chinese and Manchu between the Qianlong date and bears the Emperor's imperial seal, Qianlong yu lan zhi bao
74 x 37 1/2 in. (188 x 95.2 cm.)

Lot Essay

Previously sold in New York, 2 December 1992, lot 68.

The present lot is part of a group of paintings commemorating the military success of Qing forces in the northwestern frontier of China between 1755 to 1759. As a result of these military campaigns the Yili Valley and Eastern Turkestan came under Chinese control and was renamed Xinjiang province.

According to the research of Nie Chongzhen at the Palace Museum, Beijing, a total of two-hundred and eighty meritorious servitors' portraits were painted during emperor Qianlong's reign. These paintings can be divided into three groups: one hundred were of those who put down the Heibu rebellion of western China (the first fifty were inscribed by Qianlong); one hundred of those who quelled the Daxiao jingchuan rebellion (the first fifty were also with Qianlong inscriptions); fifty were of those who ended the Taiwan rebellion; and the remaining thirty were those who stopped the Guo'er rebellion.

Of all the portraits painted, only ten or twenty can now be accounted for mostly in public and private institutions. This is one of the only remaining meritorious servitor portaits left in private hands. The inscription is signed by Liu Tongxun (1699-1773) and Yu Minzhong (1714-1779) in commending Wu Fu, the military general of Gansu province.

Of the other known hanging scrolls, two are in the Royal Ontario Museum, one of which is a Portrait of Namjar, illustrated in Homage to Heaven Homage to Earth, no. 138. At least three groups of court painters worked together in the production of these paintings, one group under the supervision of those adept in portraiture with two others responsible for the remainder of the figures and their military equipment, op. cit., p. 242.

For other examples cf. a portrait of Moer Gen Batulu Daketana, sold in these Rooms, The Imperial Sale, 27 April 1997, lot 98, where the written dedication honours the soldier for his success in suppressing the rebellion in Xinjiang province. Compare also three other paintings: a portrait of Keshiki Batu Luwuke Shier, sold in our New York Rooms, 27 March 1997, lot 101; a portrait of Te Gu Si Ba, sold in New York, 1 June 1993; and a portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard of the First Rank, sold in New York, 3 June 1986, lot 90.

(US$90,000-120,000)
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