Due to the warm and humid climate in China’s southeast, silk workshops specialized in making airy gauze garments, like the one worn by Yang Guifei here.
This painting alludes to the love story between Tang emperor Xuanzong (reigned 712–56) and his consort Yang Guifei. Yang’s nude body can be seen through the transparent silk-gauze robe as she leaves the bath. The historic scene is set in a southern open interior of the 1700s, offering a view into a garden with a Taihu stone. Yang is shielded by a large painted screen, signed Gu Jianlong, who ran a studio on Tiger Hill in Suzhou. While this painting offers historic and literary allusions for its educated client, the prints nearby imitate its hanging scroll format, the subject matter, composition, and southern-style setting.
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