from right to left: figure with attendants in a garden near a pool with ducks; figures in an interior writing, reading and playing games; men picnicking, listening to female musicians; second building where two men listen to a third man playing a stringed instrument; brightly colored

Scholarly Pursuits, late 17th-mid 18th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

Ink and color on silkexpand_more

Gift of Ruth and Bruce Daytonexpand_more  2005.54.4

In imperial China, elite women mostly lived in the inner quarters of their homes, hidden away in confined spaces. On those rare occasions when they appeared in public, they were usually engaged in singing, playing instruments, and dancing to entertain male patrons or nobles. This scroll depicts groups of scholars engaging in various pursuits in a garden setting. In one scene, a group of women musicians is about to play for several comfortably seated scholars who are drinking wine. The artist intended us to compare the screen behind the musicians, painted with beautiful flowers, with the women themselves—reinforcing the idea of women as decorative objects meant for entertainment.

Details
Title
Scholarly Pursuits
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2005.54.4
Curator Approved

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from right to left: figure with attendants in a garden near a pool with ducks; figures in an interior writing, reading and playing games; men picnicking, listening to female musicians; second building where two men listen to a third man playing a stringed instrument; brightly colored