Section 4 Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Copy after Zhou Wenju 周文矩, Chinese (active 940–975)
In the Palace
Other Titles
Original Language Title: 倣周文矩 宮中圖
Former Title: Palace Ladies at Leisure
Work Type
handscroll, painting
before 1140
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Song dynasty, Southern Song period, 1127-1279
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Handscroll; ink and traces of pigment on silk
H. 25.7 x W. 177 cm (10 1/8 x 69 11/16 in.)
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
A 10-026 (Suzuki Kei)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Francis H. Burr Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Originally part of a longer scroll copied from a lost work by the Five Dynasties painter Zhou Wenju, this scroll is an important relic of Chinese court figure painting. Executed in the "baimiao" or outline mode with touches of color only in their red hair ribbons and lips, the women and children of these intimate scenes are brought vividly to life by the sensitive brushwork of the artist. Additional scrolls preserving the other sections of Zhou Wenju's composition are found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and at Villa I Tatti, Florence. A colophon dated to 1140 and preserved with the Cleveland portion states that this copy of Zhou Wenju's scroll was made for the scholar and critic Zhang Cheng (d. 1143).
Publication History

Yukio Yashiro, "Again on the Sung Copy of the Scroll 'Ladies of the Court' by Chou Wen-chu", Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies), Institute of Art Research, Tokyo (1952), vol. IV, no. 169, pp. 157-62, pp. 157-162, Pl. II-V

Suzuki Kei, Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku, Amerika Kanada hen (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Paintings, Volume 1: American and Canadian Collections), University of Tokyo Press (Tokyo, Japan, 1982), pp. I-56 and I-432, no. A 10-026

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 27, p. 32

Lara Blanchard, Mou Yi’s Pounding Cloth: Painting, Play, Reference, and Discourse in Song China, Artibus Asiae, Museum Rietberg Zurich (Zurich, 2013), vol. LXXIII, no. 2, pp. 295-341, p. 315, fig. 15

Zoe Kwok, The Eternal Feast: Banqueting in Chinese Art from the 10th to the 14th Century, exh. cat., Princeton University Art Museum (New Haven, 2019), pp. 131, 134, fig. 46

Exhibition History

Later Chinese and Japanese Figure Painting in Decorative Arts, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/22/1992 - 06/07/1992

Women and the Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/10/1994 - 03/05/1995

Masterworks of East Asian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 11/03/1995 - 06/09/1996

A Compelling Legacy: Masterworks of East Asian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/24/2004 - 03/20/2005

China in Twelve Artworks, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/23/2016 - 05/08/2016

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Collection Highlights

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at