Palace Ladies Watching the Sunset

Artist: Formerly attributed to Zhao Boju (ca. 1120s-ca.1162)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 127.1 x 30 cm (50 1/16 x 11 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), palace

To 1911
Shir Gu Sai, China, to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Shir Gu Sai, in China, in 1911 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Reserve Panel List, R. 19, L. 908, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Shir Gu Sai (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


This painting shows a generic palace constructed at the foot of towering mountains. On a terrace behind the gates of the compound, several palace ladies have gathered to watch the sunset (or sunrise) as it reddens the skies and waters. Flecks of gold added to the paint augment the dazzling effect. The painting bears the spurious signature of Zhao Boju, an imperial relative who worked in the academy at the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) court. A specialist in the blue-and-green style originated almost five centuries earlier by Li Sixun (651-716/18), himself a member of the Tang imperial family, Zhao was especially renowned for his detailed depictions of palaces and other architectural motifs in landscape settings. No original works by Li or Zhao survive and, other than the most superficial of connections, neither the execution nor the design of this scroll bear any particular relationship to the extant compositions more plausibly attributed to either man. Instead, this painting falls into the general category of works that derive from the mid-Ming dynasty resurrection of the meticulous landscape and architecture style ushered in by the famous painter Qiu Ying (ca. 1494-1552). Judging from the quality of the materials and the skillful but somewhat uninspired execution of the work, this painting was probably the product of a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century workshop and was intended for the collection of an affluent patron.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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