Given the style of the cap on the seated gentleman’s head, this looks very much like a judge interrogating a reluctant witness. Robert Van Gulik, translator of the classic Chinese detective novel Dee Goong An (“Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee”) went on to write a great many Chinese-style mystery stories centering on its protagonist, the legendary magistrate Ti Jen-djieh, an actual historcal figure who rose to high office under the ruthless 8th-century Empress Wu. These Far-Eastern “police procedurals” contain a good deal of enlightening information about the working of the Chinese justice system, in which the administration of floggings with bamboo canes or rods to both male and female bottoms is described in matter-of-fact detail.(That Van Gulik was also a collector of Oriental erotica is neither here nor there.) See, for example, his early novel The Chinese Nail Murders, in which a woman is interrogated in much the way depicted above.