|KEY WORD : art history / paintings|
|Ch:gongletu. Lit. Pictures of Pleasures at Court. A broad term referring to paintings of Chinese court ladies, often accompanied by emperors, set against palace architecture. Kyuuraku-zu can be considered one type of Chinese genre painting. The lavish lifestyle of emperors and their female attendants had a long history of representation in Chinese painting, but it was not until the 16c that these themes were painted regularly in Japan, appearing on fans, screens, and even laquer ware. Kyuuraku-zu were one speciality of Kanou school *Kanouha 狩野派 artists. The majority of kyuuraku-zu are imagined representations of Tang dynasty court life at the time of Xuanzong (Jp: *Gensou 玄宗) and his beautiful concubine Yang Guifei (Jp: *Youkihi 楊貴妃). Themes associated with them include *fuuryuujin-zu 風流陣図 (Pictures of Elegant Battles), *choukou-zu 蝶幸図 (Pictures of the Butterfly of Happiness), as well as the illustrations of the classic narrative-ode, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow (Ch: Changhenge, Jp: Chougonka 長恨歌). Because the Changhenge theme is both the oldest and best-known of the kyuuraku-zu subjects, it is thought that the architectural and figural iconography used in other kyuuraku-zu derive from paintings of Changhenge. Paintings of the theme usually show Xuanzong, and often Yang Guifei, surrounded by dozens of court beauties amidst lush palace scenery. An older theme depicts the Epong Palace (Jp: *Aboukyuu 阿房宮), the women's quarters at the court of Quinshihuangdi (Jp: Shin Shikoutei 秦始皇帝, BC 259-210). The influence of kyuuraku-zu can be seen in a number of other painting subjects. Beautiful court ladies appear, in fewer numbers and larger scale, in Edo period imaginary portraits of Chinese beauties, karabijin 唐美人 and Pictures of Court Princesses, kyuuen-zu 宮媛図. The palatial settings found in kyuuraku-zu also appear in similar form in *teikan-zu 帝鑑図 (Illustrated Mirror of Emperors).|
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