Palace Garden with Ceremonial Barques

This boldly colored depiction of two groups of women rowing ceremonial boats before a palace garden backed by mountains belongs to a genre known as xingle xt (行乐图, pictures of life at leisure). The idyllic scene was executed using the exacting Gongbi technique (工笔, Careful Brush Technique), combining meticulous brushwork, bold colors, and jiehua, the precise rendering of architecture with a traditional ruler called a jiechi (界尺). This late Ming dynasty watercolor is one of nine related landscapes in Dresden that descend from the collection of Nicolaas Witsen (1641–1717), a mayor of Amsterdam and collector of Asian art. The Kupferstich-Kabinett acquired several Chinese and Indian works from the sale of Witsen’s estate in 1728.

Unknown artist
Palace Garden with Ceremonial Barques, first half of the seventeenth century, late Ming dynasty
Brush and watercolor and opaque watercolor on silk, mounted on cardboard
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. CA 132/5
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Photo: Andreas Diesend