Birthday celebrations and concomitant themes of longevity are pervasive in Chinese art of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Celebration: The Birthday in Chinese Art draws together some 50 works in many media from the Metropolitan Museum's collection—lacquers, paintings, jades, textiles and costumes, ceramics—to illustrate these auspicious themes. Works on view will include a splendid lacquered screen, a set of embroidered hanging scrolls, and a colorful porcelain vase, all depicting a scene of the 80th-birthday gathering for the Tang-dynasty general Guo Ziyi, a popular figure of long life, wealth, and honor. Longevity is also encoded in peaches, cranes, immortals, and flora and fauna of many kinds, sometimes forming sophisticated visual word play expressing wishes of long life for the honoree.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Website