Album leaf; ink and color on silk
Image: 28.7 x 31.2 cm (11 5/16 x 12 5/16 in.); with mat: 33.3 x 40.5 cm (13 1/8 x 15 15/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1961.261
Following a baby’s birth, ceremonies and festivities traditionally marked the baby’s successive attainment of thirty days, one hundred days, and one year in age. “One hundred children” paintings such as this album leaf would have been suitable for presentation on either of the latter occasions.
Paintings on the “one hundred children” theme usually have numerous, if not exactly 100, children. A majority of the children here imitate the dress, manners, and activities of the adult world. Whatever the exact significance of the subject, the painter of this album leaf clearly intended it to be savored figure by figure. With seemingly inexhaustible invention, the artist characterized each performer in the colorful pageant with unique accoutrements and action. The avoidance of overlapping allows each figure to be seen in clear detail, while all the figures are organized into a coherent composition. Garden settings with decorative rocks, blossoming shrubs, graceful willows, and lotus ponds had become fairly standard environments for late twelfth- to thirteenth-century scenes of palace ladies as well as of playing children.
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