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Detail from a portrait of Empress Xiaoxian, showing shoulders, head, and headgear; she is vested in ornate jewelry and robes with rich colors and intricate designs; her headdress is decorated with pearl-studded golden birds, and a slight smile shows on her face.

Empress Xiaoxian (detail). China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period, 1771, with repainting possibly 19th century. Ignatius Sichelbarth (Ai Qimeng), Yi Lantai, and possibly Wang Ruxue. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk. Peabody Essex Museum, gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Sturgis Hinds, 1956, E33619. Photo by Walter Silver/PEM.

Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912

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