General's Wife, Qing Dynasty


This work is one of a pair of original unsigned gouache watercolors, painted by an unknown hand and dating from the early 19th century, depicting a Chinese general and his wife.

Qing General's Wife: Click the image to examine the finer details.

Shown here is the general’s wife, seated outside a row of tents. Near her is a staff with an oval shield bearing an animated and fearsome face. The same shield appears in her husband’s portrait, but with a different banner above it. The wife’s lady-in-waiting is kneeling at her right. Both women wear finely detailed costumes of blue and turquoise.

A similar Qing dynasty robe from the 19th century



Notice the small bound feet of the lady-in-waiting, denoting that she's of ethnic Han decent, while the raised platform shoes of the general's wife likely denote she's of Manchu heritage (Manchu women do not bound their feet.) She holds a commander's command plaque, similar in function to an European baton.

The General: Click the image to examine the finer details.

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