Evening in the Forbidden City

an emperor portrait painted for the San Francisco Opera opening night gala
Patrons attending the opening night of the San Francisco Opera on Friday were  treated to a colorful performance of Puccini's Turandot as well as  a special gala dinner in a majestic tented Opera Ball Pavilion, An Evening in the Forbidden City.
Event designer Robert Fountain commissioned me to help decorated the pavilion with  large scale portraits of Chinese Emperors. Of course this is right up my alley so of course I said yes.
the ghostly apparitions of Emperors in my studio
Melinda's clear favorite was the kindly old emperor in the vermillion robe.
With only about a week to paint these,  I called in my friend and colleague, Melinda Morey.  We had a brilliant time working together!  We were fairly literal in our painting technique - using a period  Chinese style and including a lot of rich pattern.  I was especially thrilled to be using such pure, saturated color for the magnificent robes of the Emperors: vermillion, gamboge, pure cadmium yellow, indigo, kingfisher blue...
 Emperors in the studio just after completion

Lynne with three of the 9 foot tall paintings

The Gala Pavilion was fabulously draped entirely in red, and the portraits hung and lit to great effect.
After the opera, the party continued with dancing in the Hall of the Emperors.

More inspiration:  
Bertoclucci's The Last Emperor 
Twilight in the Forbidden City by Reginald Johnston

Murals for special events?  Why, yes!


  1. Lynne, What can I say besides this is beyond amazing. I want one for my entry. lol


  2. Lynne,

    This gave me goosebumps. Simply exquisite.

    I can't wait to have one in my entry some day. heh.


  3. Lynne, my hat is off to you for creating such strikingly handsome paintings within a nearly impossible deadline! Most impressive, and it looks like you had fun to boot! Brava!

  4. This job was so made for you! I love seeing all of them. The shot of you is priceless!

  5. I remember you were pretty nervous about cranking these out in that time frame, but it looks like they really came out well. Hope they take care of them- they look worthy of protection! Well done!

  6. So very cool! Gotta love those nearly impossible deadlines...

    It's the best when you have fun creating!

  7. thanks all! it was great fun to have so much color in the studio since the previous project was all grisaille. more about that soon!


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