First Night Design | Chinese Empress on Her Throne


Chinese Empress on Her Throne @ First Night Design
Chinese Empress on Her Throne © First Night Design

While I have not specified which empress this is in the title, she was actually the Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi  or Cixi (1835-1908) and one of the most formidable of figures. According to King’s College, she ‘was famed for her beauty and charm’.

The original empress image from a 1920s edition of The Children's Encyclopaedia
The original empress image from a 1920s edition of The Children’s Encyclopaedia

These were not the least of her qualities, apparently, since she ‘was power hungry, ruthless and profoundly skilled in court politics’, rising from the middle class of Manchu society to become a concubine of Emperor Hsien-Feng and the only one to bear him a son. It is not surprising to learn that she could as easily be a great friend as a terrible enemy.

Marble Endpaper
Marble Endpaper

My first impression of the Children’s Encyclopaedia reproduction, which was from an oil painting done in 1906, was of a woman one had better not cross swords with and how right I was! Her story is fascinating and well worth reading.

Many old images are divine as they stand but sometimes I yearn to change them and that was the case with Tzu-Hsi.  By giving the picture an underlay of green marble scanned from the endpaper of the encyclopaedia (as above) and a layer of creamy yellow, I have softened the overall effect and made the image more pleasing to the eye — well, my eye, at least!
Art Prints

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

14 thoughts on “First Night Design | Chinese Empress on Her Throne

  1. Wonderful, rich image. I like both the encyclopedia version and your version for different reasons.

    Okay, I’ll take a sofa or chaise lounge upholstered in your version with a couple of pillows in the other…(-:

    Like

  2. I remember seeing a film about her life in China, she scared the living daylights out of me even when was dead. The film showed all the scheming, plots, knocking off rival concubines, killing people in all sorts of different ways. We Westerners were cringing but the Chinese in the audience lapped it up!

    Liked by 1 person

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