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: Imperial Noblewoman’s Summer Surcoat

Imperial Noblewoman’s Summer Surcoat

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, Daoguang reign, 1821-1850
Silk gauze with silk and metallic thread embroidery
H x W: 135.3 x 145.7 cm (53 1/4 x 57 3/8 in)
China, Suzhou, Hangzhou, or Nanjing
Credit Line
Purchase — funds provided by an anonymous donor
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
Surcoats such as this were worn by women of the imperial household, including consorts and wives of high-ranking imperial nobles. The simple construction of the coat is ideal to display pictorial insignia of rank, such as the dragon roundels here. Both the total number of roundels and the number of the dragons' claws indicate the wearer's rank at court. The five-clawed dragons seen here are a special imperial privilege. Coats such as this were worn over floor-length court robes to add greater formality to the costume.

From about 1930 to 1990
Unknown collector, California, from about 1930 [1]

From 1990 to 1992
Linda Wrigglesworth, London, purchased at auction, Butterfield's Auction House, San Francisco, November 1990 [2]

From 1992
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from Linda Wrigglesworth in 1992


[1] According to Linda Wrigglesworth, Chinese Costume and Textiles, London, who purchased the robe at Butterfield's Auction House in San Francisco in November 1990, Butterfield's representative Dessa Goddard stated that the robe was consigned by an elderly California woman who had had the robe in her possession for approximately sixty years (see Provenance Remark 1, J. Stuart, 1992, in the object record).

[2] See note 1.

Former owner
Linda Wrigglesworth
On View Location
Currently not on view
Costume and Textile
China, couching, counted thread embroidery, Daoguang reign (1821 - 1850), dragon, embroidery, gauze, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Collection(s) Area
Chinese Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.