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Playing Chess before a Double Screen

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Period: Five Dynasties (907-960)
Medium: ink and color on silk
Format: handscroll

Artist(s): Zhou Wenju (ca. 907-975)

Dimensions: 40.3 × 70.5 cm

A screen is depicted within the screen in the painting, which accounts for the name of this painting "Double Screen". Set in a finely decorated room, four noble men assemble around a chess table before a screen. They are intensely involved in the game: one is urging his opponent to settle on a move, while the other still hesitates. The other two are observing the game attentively and quietly. It is widely agreed that the protagonist, the one wearing a high hat, is Li Jing (916-961), the second emperor of the Southern Tang dynasty (937-975). Thus the painting depicts leisure life at the court.   
  In addition to the lifelike portraits, the painting also presents interior decoration, including a pitch pot, a screen, a chest, couch, and tea set. These decorations and furniture are crucial visual evidence for the study on the daily-used accoutrements of the Five Dynasties and imperial gatherings for recreation. 
  The painting bears no seals or name of Zhou Wenju. According to the painting connoisseur Xu Bangda, this is a faithful Song dynasty copy.

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