Fang Chunnian ca. 1225-1264)
Ming or Qing dynasty
Ink and color on silk
H: 59.6 W: 1007.3 cm
Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1908.170
The painting shows various groups assembling to celebrate the Queen Mother's birthday. Several palace women and young boys can be seen harvesting ripe peaches at the right end of the displayed section, as an imperial figure and attendant courtiers promenade on a terrace overlooking the small grove. Other male figures appear in the doors and windows of the main palace behind them, while the more distant buildings are populated by women practicing various musical instruments for the approaching celebration. At left, another group of women has ascended a high platform to await the arrival of the goddess from the air.
This lavishly illustrated handscroll was probably produced by a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century workshop that specialized in high-end reproductions of famous works. The scroll bears a spurious signature of Fang Chunnian, who served in the imperial painting academy of the Southern Song dynasty (11271279) and was praised for his depictions of Daoist immortals and Buddhist deities in landscape settings. The Peach Festival is the best-known painting associated with his name.