JIN KUN, LIANG SHIZHENG, AND OTHER COURT PAINTERS (18TH CENTURY)
EMPEROR QIANLONG'S REVIEW OF THE GRAND PARADE OF TROOPS
Handscroll, ink and colour with gold on silk
68 x approximately 1550 cm. (26 3/4 x approximately 610 in.)
Inscribed at the end of the scroll: Scroll Three - Review of Grand Parade
Fifteen collector's seals of the Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1736-1795): San Xi Tang Jin Jian Xi, Yi Zi Sun, Qian Long Jian Shang, Zhong Hua Gong Jian Cang Bao, Qian Long Yu Lang Zhi Bao, Shi Qu Bao Ji, Bao Ji Ding Jian, Bao Ji Zhong Bian (complete set of eight collection seals), Wu Fu Wu Dai Tang Gu Xi Tian Zi, Ba Zheng Mao Nian Zhi Bao, Tai Shang Huang Di Zhi Bao, Ji Xi You Yu Xiang, Luo Zhi Yun Yan, Han Ying Zui Hua, Bi Duan Chun Yu
With Qing imperial kesi scroll wrap of dragon amongst clouds design, with woven titleslip reading: Dayue Disan Tu, Yue Zhen, (Review of Grand Parade of Troops, Scroll Three, The Review)
Qing imperial gold ground brocade outer wrap with two dragons around a flaming pearl pattern
The emperor Qianlong chose to review his troops in Nanyuan (South Park) in the fourth year of his reign, and this took place in the eleventh month of the jiwei year, 1739. A precedent was set for a review of the troops every three years. The order to paint and record this occasion came seven years later in the eleventh year of Qianlong's reign, when Jin Kun (active circa 1662-1746) was appointed to lead a team of ten court painters in this task. A series of four large handscrolls was painted, each depicting certain events of the review which took place over several days. The first scroll depicts the emperor's arrival, the second the formation of the parade, the third the actual review, and the fourth the grand finale. Each scroll ends with a long inscription detailing the secnes depicted. (See Shiqu Baoji Xubian, juan (chapter) 35, in Midian Zhulin Shiqu Baoji Hebian, Shanghai Bookstore Publishing, 1988, vol.5, pp.1871-1875). Of the four scrolls, the whereabouts of only two are known, the present lot which is the third, and the second scroll of the parada formation in the Palace Museum, Beijing (See Nie Chongzheng et. al., Qingdai Gongting Huihua (Qing Court Paintings), Hong Kong, 1996 pp. 157-163, and Court Painting of the Qing Dynasty, Cultural Relics Publishing House, Beijing 1992, pp.158-9, 257). The second and third scrolls are almost identical, with the exception that the second scroll concerns only the parade and the emperor is not seen, whereas the present third scroll describes the same parade formation with the emperor present reviewing his troops.
The Qing army is divided into eight 'brigades', each distinguished by the colour of their banner. The eight colours are yellow, white, red, blue, yellow-inlaid, white-inlaid, red-inlaid, and blue-inlaid. The white, yellow-inlaid, and yellow bannered brigades are the upper three brigades, also known as the Neifu Sanqi (the three banners of the imperial court), consisting of members of the Qing-Mongol aristocracy. Troops are arranged by brigades in the parade. For a viewer of this scroll, they are arranged from the start of the scroll in colour sequence of blue, white-inlaid, white, yellow-inlaid, yellow, red, red-inlaid, and blue-inlaid. Each battalion is further sub-divided by battalions such as the cavalry, cordons, and so on. Every detail in the formation of the parada down to the patterns and colours of each banner, the dress and accoutrements of each soldier, is prescribed and strictly adhered to.
On the appointed day, the emperor dressed in full military regalia leaves his temporary royal residence in Nanyuan and travels on horseback to reach the royal marquee set up on Liangying Tai. He rides from the marquee through the parade to inspect the troops. His entourage includes body-guards, officials, and generals, forming two single lines in front to herald the arrival of the monarch, and the rest falls into five concentric semi-circles in the rear. On completing his inspection, the emperor retires to the royal marquee on Liangyin Tai. Lang Shining (G. Castiglione, 1688-1766) also painted Qianlong reviewing his troops on this first occasion in a very large hanging scroll now in the Palace Museum, Beijing. (See Nie et. al., ibid., p.151). When comparing the images of the emperor in these two scrolls, the huge effort and particular attention to detail paid to the present lot is immediately apparent, given that the Lang Shining painting is a large portrait and yet almost a mirror image of the miniature in the present scroll.
The four scrolls were painted by Jin Kun, leading Cheng Zhidao (active circa 1726-1796), Wu Gui (active 1622-1746), Cheng Liang (active 1736-1795), Yao Wenhan (active 1739-1752), Lu zhan (18th century), Zhang Tingyan (1735-1794), Jin Sheng (18th century), Ding Guanhe (18th century), and Chen Yongjie (active 1736-1795). The inscriptions were by court officials including Liang Shizheng (1697-1763), Wang Youdun (1692-1758), Zhang Ruo'ai (1713-1746), Ji Huang (1711-1794), and Zhuang Yougong (1713-1767). The scrolls were painted to be exact replicas of actual events down to the smallest detail. The review itself involved over twenty thousand people, and the scrolls manage to capture some sixteen thousand of them. Each facial expression is distinct, and alL the intricate accoutrements are delicatedly drawn. Vibrant colours are used to enliven the picture. Production was closely monitored and carefully rendered to ensure that no detail was missed. It is recorded that Jin Kun had confused the formation of the parade and was dismissed with his remuneration severed when Qianlong discovered the error. Jin was reinstated only after much pleading and the defects corrected, but received only half of that month's salary (see Court Painting of the Qing Court, ibid., p.10)