Screen with birthday celebration for General Guo Ziyi

Artist: Lu Guisheng (Chinese, active 1821–50)

Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

Date: mid-19th century

Culture: China

Medium: Carved red and black lacquer

Dimensions: Open flat: 84 1/8 in. × 12 ft. 4 in. (213.7 × 375.9 cm)
Open curved: 84 1/8 in. × 11 ft. 3 13/16 in. × 35 7/16 in. (213.7 × 345 × 90 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Henry-George J. McNeary, 1971

Accession Number: 1971.74a–h

Description

The inscription in the upper right indicates that the screen was made in honor of a certain General Zhen, most likely upon an important birthday, such as his sixtieth. The primary decoration records a celebration for Guo Ziyi (697–781), one of the most famous generals in Chinese history—an obvious compliment to Zhen. Engaging scenes of children at play, symbolic of longevity and embodying good wishes, fill the densely carved roundels on the screen’s lower half.

The inscription is signed by Lu Guisheng, a famous Chinese artist and one of the few recorded as having worked in lacquer. It gives a date during the reign of the Qianlong emperor (1736–95), which suggests that this work followed an earlier prototype by a member of Lu’s family workshop.

Related