A woman in a long, blue, fur-lined robe, buttoned all the way down, is seated at a square table on a stool (one of the bent red legs can be seen under the table). She wears a sable hat with a phoenix ornament and ear rings. She is resting her left arm on a copper brazier and her right hand is on the head of one of three boys. Two boys hold their ears, the third is lighting three crackers on the floor, seven more are waiting on the table. The boys wears hats with sable brims and heavy robes with fur at collars and sleeves, indicating a winter scene. Two dogs are playing in the mid-ground. On the table sits a grey tray with narcissus (grown in water and pebbles, with the bulbs showing) and a small rock formation, and further back a yellow, square vase decorated with hexagrams contains
twigs of pine and hawthorns(?) the typical “Three Friends of Winter” – plum, nandina berries (Heavenly Bamboo, to represent the regular bamboo) and pine, all plants belonging to the winter period. Behind the woman hangs a board with seven characters and a signature:
麟兒集慶新年瑞 姑蘓信德號 lin’er jiqing xinnianrui Gusu xinde hao
The square-tiled black floor is continued into the next room, accessed over a high threshold and through two opened panels. This room or patio has a carved balustrade to a walled garden in which are two round stools, a twisting pine, some rock formations and a palm. To the left, between the balustrade pillar and the open doors, can be seen a penzai 盆栽 (jap. bonsai) tree. Through a round moon-door a pebble path leads further out into other walled garden rooms.
110 x 60 cm
Addition November 5th 2012:
During our research of the Gusu Beauties we learned that 嘉德国际拍卖有限公司 or China Guardian auction firm in Beijing on the 23 of March 2008, lot 4503, included two of these prints in their sale. This Print 1 was one of them, the other was a Print 5. The two prints were said to come from the UK. Size 109 x 59 cm.
There is a lengthy, but rather general, text to the catalogue entry.
2015-09-28 We have also since learned that there are seven examples of this print on the walls of the Small Chinese Salon at Esterházy Palace.
2015-10-18 The two China Guardian auction prints mentioned above are illustrated in 高福民: 康乾盛世「蘇州版」Shanghai, 2014, vol.2, p.65, stating that they belong to the author, Gao Fumin.