A Chinese famille rose plate depicting a scene from The Romance of the Western Chamber. Yongzheng period.
Decorated in famille rose palette, with a scene from Act III of The Romance of the Western Chamber (Xi Xiang Ji) by the Yuan Dynasty playwright Wang Shifu (c.1260-1336), with Cui Yingying and her attendant Hongniang, awaiting the arrival of Zhang Sheng.
- Period :
- Yongzheng (1723-1735)
- 23 cm
- Reference :
For a pair of plates of this design, see Christie’s London, Asian Art, 6 septembre 2007, lot 1592.
Xi Xiang Ji is a well-known tale, with origins in the 8th/9th Century, written in the Yuan Dynasty (13th/14th Century) as a play. It has remained popular ever since, and has been reprinted many times. It is the woodblock prints used to illustrate the text which have, throughout the ages, inspired the decoration of scenes from the tale on porcelain The story tells of the romance between Zhang Sheng, a talented but poor scholar, and Cui Yingying, a beautiful maiden, whose mother will not allow the couple to marry, and sends Zhang away to the capital to seek scholarly success. While on his way to take the civil service examination, Zhang is instrumental in rescuing Yingying from a group of bandits. Her hand in marriage had been offered by her mother to whoever could save her, but she subsequently reneges on her promise. In the end he is successful and claims Yingying as his bride.
This scene shows Zhang climbing over a wall onto a terrace where Yingqing and an attendant are waiting, and the couple meet for a secret tryst. The scene depicted is most likely from the play The West Chamber, where the scholar Zhang climbs over the garden wall to see Cui Yingying (the lady seated at the table). The other woman is her maid, Hongniang.