Flowers in a Vase

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Flowers in a Vase (畫瓶花)

Lang Shining (郎世寧, 1688-1766), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 113.4 x 59.5 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining) fused traditional Chinese painting methods with Western techniques of perspective. Here he painted peonies with light and dark hues to express a sense of layering and volume. The leaves also turn and extend in space, the veins outlined with great realism to create an extremely rich and volumetric effect. The angular blue-and-white vase shown here is decorated with a morning glory (牽牛花) pattern and features two dragon-head handles. Strong lighting emphasizes the shine and luster of the porcelain, the colors having a dramatic chiaroscuro effect of light and shade. Placed in the vase is a rare double-blossom branch of peonies, symbolizing auspicious fortune as well as peace and wealth (平安富贵).

(vase: hua-ping 花瓶; peace: ping-an 平安. Peonies are symbols of wealth.)