Series: The Royal Collection of Imperial China
Artist: Zhang Zeduan
Period: Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127)
Dimensions: 1159 × 22 cm
(Collected by the Palace Museum)
Color on silk; length 25 cm, width 529 cm
This painting depicts a lively, busy scene along the banks of the Bian River outside the Eastern Corner Gate in Bianlian, then capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, at the Qingming Festival. The festival is a traditional holiday and one of the 24 solar terms. Customary activities include tomb sweeping, serving of cold food, picking willow branches, picnicking, and kite flying, all of which are fully displayed in the painting. A flow of wagons and carriages fills the streets, alongside both busy and idle peddlers, with farmers working in the background. The brushstrokes in elegant colors are both meticulous and free, offering a bird’s eye panorama.
Zhang Zeduan, known by the alias Zheng Dao, hailed from Dongwu (present day Zhucheng, Shandong Province). A painter of the Northern Song Dynasty, he served under the official title Daizhao at Hanlin during the Xuanhe period. He excelled at depicting boats, carriages, markets, bridges, streets, city walls, forests, and people. His extant works include Riverside Scene at Qingming.