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Immortal Blossoms of an Eternal Spring 

Lang Shining (郎世寧, 1688–1766), Qing Dynasty (1644–1911)

Album leaf, ink and colors on silk, 33.3 x 27.8 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

Replicas available

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        This album of sixteen leaves includes the following flowers, fruit, or plants: tree peony, peach blossom, herbaceous peony, flowering crab apple and magnolia, corn poppy and fringed iris, yellow prickly rose, carnation, cherry, poppy, purple and white lilacs, tiger lily and peony blossom, bamboo and morning glory, lotus and arrowhead, pea blossom and millet, cockscomb, and chrysanthemum. Eight of the leaves also include birds, the contents corresponding to a record of a painting entitled “Album of Flowers” by Giuseppe Castiglione in Third Edition of Treasured Boxes from the Stone Moat, one of the Qing court catalogues. The opposing leaves for each painting here are blank, the last one signed in “Song-script” as “Respectfully painted by Your Servitor, Lang Shining.” Judging from the painting style, it would appear to be a masterpiece from the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735). Castiglione not only painted the sixteen leaves in this album with meticulous care and coloring, the compositions are also quite innovative. In particular, he was able to reach beyond the traditional portrayal of birds in Chinese painting to achieve fantastic results in Western perspective and shading as well. Many places in the depiction of the birds and flowers reveal touches of light and shadow, the artist showing adept skill at using white pigment to highlight bright areas. The style throughout relates to Castiglione’s early Yongzheng manner.