Series: The Royal Collection of Imperial China
Artist: Zhou Fang
Period: Tang Dynasty (618–907)
Dimensions: 198 × 22 cm
(Collected by the Palace Museum)
Ink and color on silk; length 34 cm, width 205 cm
This work depicts thirteen concubines and maids with buns perched high on their heads, with slender eyes and round faces, wearing long dresses trailing on the ground, sitting idly with their fans. They are engaged in activities like opening purses, playing musical instruments, putting on makeup in front of the mirror, embroidering, fanning, resting, and other daily situations.
The scroll is arranged horizontally to display the various activities of the figures. The rhythm varies, and the composition is highly organized. The figures are richly dressed with well-rounded figures, but they appear melancholy, lonely, frustrated, and depressed.
Zhou Fang, also known by the courtesy name Zhong Lang, lived in Jingxuan, Jingzhao (present day Xi’an, Shaanxi Province). He was a painter of the Tang Dynasty. Born into a noble family, he served as an offical in Yuezhou and later Xuanzhou. He was good at copying and calligraphy. He painted figures and images of the Buddha, but was especially skilled at painting noble women. His figures were full-bodied and dignified, employing colors that were soft and beautiful. His painting was particularly favored by the court’s scholar-bureaucrats. His portrait paintings were known for their divine appearance, and he painted excellent horses, birds, animals, and plants.