Imperial Portrait of Consort Chunhui Wearing Natural Pearls up for Auction

Natural Pearls on Imperial Portrait

Natural Pearls on Imperial Portrait

Imperial Portrait of Consort Chunhui up for Auction


(I'm including this as a news item because of the significant natural pearls that Consort Chunhui is wearing in her portrait.)

An Imperial portrait of Consort Chunhui is the highlight of the Bonhams Hong Kong Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale to be held on 27 May at the Island Ballroom of the Island Shangri-La Hotel.

Attributed to the Italian missionary-artist Giuseppe Castiglione, who served at the Qing Court under the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors, the half-length portrait of Consort Chunhui in court dress is executed in oil on gaoli paper and measures 54.5cm by 41.5cm.

Vividly painted in brilliant colors depicting the sitter in front profile from the waist up, her serene expression delicately rendered with full naturalistic attention, her face bright as if from natural sunlight, revealing a young yet dignified woman opulently adorned with feather hat, pearl earrings and a sumptuous orange-ground embroidered dragon robe, all against a mottled pale gray ground.

Consort Chunhui, whose birth date was unknown, was the daughter of Su Zhaonan, under the family name Su Jiashi of Manchu descent. She entered the Forbidden Palace during the Yongzheng Emperor's reign and became a concubine of the then Prince Hong Li, giving birth to his third son. When the prince ascended the throne as the Qianlong Emperor, she was granted the title of Imperial Concubine Chun. She was raised by rank to consort in the second year of Qianlong's reign (1737), also bearing a prince and a princess, then to noble consort in the tenth year (1745). In the twenty-fifth year of his reign (1760), she was conferred the title of Imperial Noble Consort Chun, making her second only to the Empress in the Imperial harem. After her death later that year, she was posthumously honored as Imperial Noble Consort Chunhui, and interred in the Yuling Mausoleum for concubines of the Qing emperors.

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