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Title: An Intimate View of the Inner Quarters: A Study of Court Women and Architecture in "Palace Banquet"
Authors: Kwok, Zoe Song-Yi
Advisors: Silbergeld, Jerome
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Architecture
Palace Banquet
Subjects: Art history
Asian history
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: <italic>Palace Banquet</italic> is a large hanging scroll in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting, dated by the museum to the late 10th to early 11th century, depicts an elaborate palatial compound filled with female figures. The scene is presented on a steeply tilted ground plane allowing the viewer an intimate and detailed glimpse of both the women and their privileged architectural setting. The rarity of its subject matter and the high quality of its execution make <italic>Palace Banquet</italic> an illuminating starting point for the exploration of the art historical issues involved with the portrayal of women and architecture in early Chinese painting. This dissertation presents a close analysis of <italic>Palace Banquet</italic> in order to address fundamental questions about the painting and the complex artistic processes at play in the work. The problems of identifying the date, subject matter, artist, and patron of the painting, despite the lack of any early accompanying text or seals, are discussed throughout. The original display context and its intended audience, as well as the possibility of <italic>Palace Banquet's</italic> originally being part of a set, are also addressed. The buildings and courtyards portrayed in <italic>Palace Banquet</italic> afford a unique opportunity for the study of early architectural painting practices. This dissertation argues that the artist(s) responsible for the painting subtly manipulated the structure of the compound to best stage the actions of the female figures. This tension between the contesting artistic responsibilities towards architectural fidelity and narrative transparency is a hallmark of <italic>Palace Banquet</italic>. The bodies and attire of the women that inhabit these quarters are also considered alongside the hierarchical relationships between them. The figures are shown to be a historical hybrid, which raises further questions about the intended time period of the scene and the artist's own period. The level of historical knowledge possessed by the artist, not only of architecture and furniture but also the fashions of female dress and coiffure, is then assessed. Together these queries provide an important new window into the development of architectural and figural painting in China.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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