Screen with birthday celebration for General Guo Ziyi, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong period (1736–95), dated 1777
Carved red lacquer; Overall 84 1/8 x 148 in. (213.7 x 375.9 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Henry–George J. McNeary, 1971 (1971.74a–h)
This lacquer screen shows the bustling activity accompanying a birthday celebration in a large residential compound. An inscription on the back of the screen indicates that it was made in honor of a General Zhen, who might have been celebrating an important birthday, perhaps his sixtieth.
On the right side of the screen, guests receive a musical welcome. The banners bear the Chinese character for commander (shuai), announcing the high military rank of the honoree, and the inscription ("Prince of Fenyang") above the entrance to the compound identifies him as the Tang-dynasty hero Guo Ziyi (697–781), who was ennobled as prince of Fenyang (Shanxi Province) for his service to the nation. At the center of the screen is the reception itself, with the seated general surrounded by family members and guests paying their respects, along with performers and dancers providing entertainment. The left side of the screen offers a glimpse of the more private areas of the compound, where graceful women and excited children can be seen beyond a pavilion and lotus pond.