Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Portrait of a Seated Civil Official
Work Type
hanging scroll, painting
early 17th century
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk
painting proper: H. 155.3 x W. 95.8 cm (61 1/8 x 37 11/16 in.)
mounting: H. 302.3 x W. 116.8 cm (119 x 46 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Dr. Denman W. Ross
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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This hanging scroll depicts a seated gentleman dressed in the red robe of an official; emblazoned with two crested birds in flight amidst clouds, the so-called mandarin square, or badge of rank, indicates that he is a civil official. He sits in a magistrate's chair draped with silk brocade. Visible at the bottom, the lacquer chair shows scrolling designs carved through alternating layers of red and black lacquer. It has been suggested that this portrait may represent Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), a translator and associate of Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), the Italian Jesuit priest active in China in the late Ming period. Although this scroll has long been catalogued as Korean­-indeed, it is related in style to Korean portraits of the Chosôn dynasty (1392-1910)­-it now seems more likely that it is Chinese.
Publication History

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 1997-98 (Cambridge, MA, 1999), p. 31

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

The Arts of Korea, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 07/11/1992 - 01/31/1993

Paragons of Wisdom and Virtue: East Asian Figure Painting, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/15/1997 - 09/21/1997

32Q: 2600 East Asian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/01/2016 - 06/09/2017

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