The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of June 15, 2024

Portraits of the Qianlong Emperor and His Twelve Consorts

Portraits of the Qianlong Emperor and His Twelve Consorts

(Italian, 1688–1766)

and others

Overall: 53.8 x 1154.5 cm (21 3/16 x 454 1/2 in.); Painting only: 53 x 688.3 cm (20 7/8 x 271 in.)
Location: not on view

Did You Know?

Lingfei 令妃 (1727–1775), the first consort depicted in the maroon or “incense-colored" 香色 robe, was the mother of six of Qianlong’s children, including the future Emperor Jiaqing.


This portrait shows the Qianlong emperor at 26, in the first year of his reign. His likeness is followed by portraits of the empress and eleven consorts. The first three portraits were done by the Jesuit (Roman Catholic) missionary artist Giuseppe Castiglione.

Under Qianlong, the empire expanded and Jiangnan reached a height of economic and cultural prosperity. While the southern region served in many ways as a model for garden culture, the arts, and special crafts, in return it profited and received new stimulus from the court and its culture in the north.
  • 1736–?
    Qing imperial collection (seals of Emperor Qianlong, r. 1736–1795)
    by 1966–1969
    (Spink & Son, Ltd., London, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art)
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Octagon III, No. 4 (Winter 1966). London: Spink & Son, pp. 12-13 pp. 12, 13
    “Art of Asia Recently Acquired by American Museums, 1969.” Archives of Asian Art, vol. 24, 1970, pp. 86–117. Mentioned: p. 127 20111025
    Beurdeley, Cécile, and Michel Beurdeley. Giuseppe Castiglione, a Jesuit Painter at the Court of the Chinese Emperors. Rutland, Vt: C.E. Tuttle Co, 1971. Mentioned and Rproduced: pp. 41, 43, 98-100, 178
    Beurdeley, Cécile, and Michel Beurdeley. "Le frère Castiglione." Connaissance des arts, 1971, 235, pp. 72-79. Reproduced: p. 75
    Toynbee, Arnold, and Elsé Glahn. Half the World: The History and Culture of China and Japan. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973. Reproduced: p. 268
    Sung, Yu. "A Comparison of Two Versions of the Chü jui t'u 聚瑞圖 by Giuseppe Castiglione." National Palace Museum Bulletin 故宮通訊, XI, no. 3 (July-August 1976). Reproduced: fig. 2
    Lee, Sherman E. “Varieties of Portraiture in Chinese and Japanese Art.” The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 64, no. 4, 1977, pp. 118–136. Mentioned and Reproduced: pp. 119-122, cover pls., figs. 1, 2 25159523
    The Cleveland Museum of Art. Handbook of the Cleveland Museum of Art/1978. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1978. Reproduced: p. 358
    Ho, Wai-kam, Sherman E. Lee, Laurence Sickman, and Marc F. Wilson. Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting: The Collections of the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1980. Reproduced: p. 355-357, cat. no. 262
    Bunker, Emma C., Dieter Kuhn and Ronald Y. Otsuka. Secret Splendors of the Chinese Court: Qing Dynasty Costume from the Charlotte Hill Grant Collection, Denver Art Museum, Stanton Gallery, December 30, 1981-March 21, 1982. Denver, CO: The Denver Art Museum, 1981. Reproduced: p. 26
    Neils, Jenifer. “The Twain Shall Meet.” The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 72, no. 6, 1985, pp. 326–359. Reproduced: p. 355, fig. 60
    Wilson, J. Keith. "Powerful Form and Potent Symbol: The Dragon in Asia." The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 77, no. 8 (1990): 286-323. Reproduced: cat. no. 35, p. 322
    Garrett, Valery M. A Collector's Guide to Chinese Dress Accessories. Singapore: Times Editions, 1997. Reproduced
    Cunningham, Michael R., Stanislaw J. Czuma, Anne E. Wardwell, and J. Keith Wilson. Masterworks of Asian Art. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1998. Mentioned and Reproduced: pp. 100-101
    Paludan, Ann. Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial China. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1998. Mentioned and Reproduced: pp. 159 and 196
    Tōyō kaiga no seika: tokubetsuten: Kurīvurando Bijutsukan no korekushon kara [東洋絵画の精華: 特别展: クリーヴラント美術館のコレクションから= Highlights of Asian painting from the Cleveland Museum of Art]. Nara, Japan: Nara National Museum, 1998. Reproduced: p. 73, cat. no. 45
    Spence, Jonathan D. The search for modern China. New York/London: W. W. Norton, 1999. Reproduced
    Vollmer, John E. "Clothed to Rule the Universe: Ming and Qing Dynasty Textiles at The Art Institute of Chicago." The Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, vol. 26, no. 2, 2000, pp. 13–105. Reproduced: p. 27, fig. 3 4104402
    May, Sally Ruth, Jane Takac, and Barbara J. Bradley. Knockouts: A Pocket Guide. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2001. Reproduced: cat. no. 83, pp. 78-9; Mentioned: p. 119
    Chan Tat Chuen, William. A la table de l'empereur de Chine. Arles: Éditions Philippe Picquier, 2002. Mentioned and Reproduced: pp. 8-9
    Berriedale-Johnson, Michelle. The British Museum Festive Feasts Cookbook. London: British Museum, 2003. Reproduced: p. 106
    Sale, Giovanni and Gauvin A Bailey. Ignazio e l'arte dei gesuiti. Milano: Jaca Book, 2003. Reproduced: fig. 276
    Ho, Chuimei, and Bennet Bronson. Splendors of China's Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong. London: Merrell, 2004. Mentioned and Reproduced: fig. 203, p. 294
    Ho, Chuimei. "The Relations between Qianlong and His Consorts: Stories of a Man with Forty Wives." Orientations 35, no. 2 (March 2004): pp. 66-73.
    Ho, Chuimei . "Building a Cultural Great Wall." Calliope, December 2004, Vol. 15 Issue 4, pp. 30-32. Reproduced: pp. 30-31
    Pirazzoli-t'Serstevens, Michèle. “Giuseppe Castiglione Et Le Renouveau Du Portrait Impérial Au XVIII e. Arts Asiatiques, vol. 60, 2005, pp. 22–30. Mentioned and Reproduced: p. 24. fig. 3
    Elliott, Jeannette Shambaugh, and David L. Shambaugh. The odyssey of China's Imperial art treasures. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005. Mentioned and Reproduced: p. 52
    Brummett, Palmira Johnson et al, eds. Civilization Past & Present, 11th edition, Volume B: 500-1815. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. Reproduced: p. 602
    Schoppa, R. Keith. Revolution and Its Past: Identities and Change in Modern Chinese History, 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. Reproduced: p. 39
    Hsia, Ronnie Po-chia. Noble patronage and Jesuit missions: Maria Theresia von Fugger-Wellenburg (1690-1762) and Jesuit missionaries in China and Vietnam. Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 2006. Reproduced
    Chen, Pao-chen 陳葆真. "A Study of the Portraits of Emperor Qianlong and His Consorts and Its Related Problems 《心寫治平》— 乾隆帝后妃嬪圖卷和相關議題的探討." Mei shu shi yan jiu ji kan (Taida Journal of Art History = 美術史研究集刊), no. 21 (September 2006): pp. 89-150.
    Schoppa, R. Keith. East Asia: Identities and Change in the Modern World, 1700-Present. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008. Reproduced
    Elliott, Mark C. Emperor Qianlong: Son of Heaven, Man of the World. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. Reproduced: cover
    Fong, Wen, and Jerome Silbergeld, editor. Bridges to Heaven: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Wen C. Fong. Princeton, NJ: P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art, Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 2011. Mentioned and Reproduced: pp. 336-337, 344, figs 1 & 13
    Kleutghen, Kristina. "Contemplating Eternity: An Illusionistic Portrait of the Qianlong Emperor's Heir." Orientations, 42, Number 4 (May 2011). Mentioned and Reproduced: p. 77, fig. 3
    Franklin, David and C. Griffith Mann. Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2012. Mentioned and Reproduced: cover and pp. 216-217
    Chung, Anita. Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: July 27, 2013-January 26, 2014, the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2013. Reproduced: p. 18, fig. 3 (detail); p. 26-27, fig. 8
    Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland Art: The Cleveland Museum of Art Members Magazine. Vol. 53 no. 05, September/October 2013 Mentioned and reproduced: pp. 14–15
    Chou, Ju-hsi and Anita Chung. Silent poetry: Chinese paintings from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2015. Reproduced: pp. 434–439
    Xu, Jay and Li He, eds. Emperors' Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum, 2016. Reproduced: p. 138, fig. 3
    Clunas, Craig. Chinese Painting and Its Audiences. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2017. Reproduced: pp. 218-219, fig. 6.30
    Von Spee, Clarissa. “The Power of Writing: A new display in the Chinese galleries focuses on inscriptions.” Cleveland Art: Cleveland Museum of Art Members Magazine vol. 58, no. 5 (September/October 2018): 12-13. Reproduced and Mentioned: P. 12.
    Wang, Daisy Yiyou. "Deciphering Portraits of Qing Empresses." In Empresses of China's Forbidden City: 1644-1912. Daisy Yiyou Wang, and Jan Stuart, eds., 88-109. Salem, Massachusetts: Peabody Essex Museum; Washington, DC: Freer/Sackler, Smithsonian Institution, 2018. Mentioned: p. 101, 144; Reproduced: p. 103, fig. 18
    Wang, Daisy Yiyou. "Family, Gender and Power: Portraying Qing Imperial Women." Arts of Asia, vol. 49, no. 1 (January-February 2019): pp. 20-33. Reproduced: fig. 1, pp. 20-21
    Vinograd, Richard Ellis. Facing China: Truth and Memory in Portraiture. London: Reaktion Books, 2022. Mentioned and reproduced: P. 28-29, fig. 7
    Wang, Liangming. "A World Dotted with Kingfisher Blue: Feather Tributes and the Qing Court." in Social Lives of Chinese Objects, edited by Alice Bianchi and Lyce Jankowski, 228-267. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2023. Mentioned and reproduced: p. 264, fig. 7.20
  • Silent Poetry: Masterworks of Chinese Painting. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (November 14, 2015-April 24, 2016).
    Main Asian Rotation (Gallery 242). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (November 21, 2013-July 28, 2014).
    Art Under Emperor Ch'ien-lung. National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C. (October 5-December 20, 2002).
    Highlights of Asian Paintings from The Cleveland Museum of Art. Nara National Museum (organizer) (February 21-March 29, 1998); Suntory Museum of Art (April 28-June 21, 1998).
    Powerful Form and Potent Symbol: The Dragon in Asia. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (July 24-November 25, 1990).
    The Twain Shall Meet. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (October 30, 1985-January 5, 1986).
    Portraiture: The Image of the Individual. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (November 22, 1983-January 22, 1984).
    Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting. The Cleveland Museum of Art (February 11-March 29, 1981).
    Year in Review: 1969. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (January 27-February 22, 1970).
  • {{cite web|title=Portraits of the Qianlong Emperor and His Twelve Consorts|url=false|author=Giuseppe Castiglione, others|year=1736–70s|access-date=15 June 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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