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Yangquelong ximian / The Yuanming yuan European Palaces / Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1916,0214,0.1

  • Title (object)

    • Yangquelong ximian

    Title (series)

    • The Yuanming yuan European Palaces
    • Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan
  • Description

    West façade of Aviary; Plate 6 from a set of twenty engravings. View of the building in the centre foreground, a broad paved path leading up to it from the foreground, topiary set in a parterre on either side; to left of the building a panelled wall, to right a plain wall with tiled roof (possibly part of a low building); trees beyond. Engraving in an album; inscribed and numbered.

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  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1783-1786 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 50.7 centimetres (trimmed)
    • Width: 87.7 centimetres (trimmed)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        back of mount
      • Inscription Language

        English
      • Inscription Content

        Taken out of the Emperors Summer Palace Pekin by me [Henry] Brooke A [...] Oct 19.1860
      • Inscription Comment

        in ink
      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        left margin, top
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Comment

        title and plate number; in ink
  • Curator's comments

    The full set comprises twenty copper-plate engravings of the European Palaces (Xiyanglou 西洋樓) of the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanmingyuan 圓明園), thirteen of which are included in this album.

    The thirteen BM prints are mounted in moiré silk in a linked album with wooden covers, and are from two separate Registration series: 1916,0214,01 to 1916,0214,0.4 and 1924,0523,0.13 to 1924,0523,0.21. The individual titles used here were taken from Antoine Durand and Régine Thiriez, "Engraving the Emperor of China’s European Palaces.", 'Biblion: the Bulletin of the New York Public Library', 1, no. 2 (Spring 1993), pp. 81–107.

    The Garden of Perfect Brightness was a vast imperial estate on the outskirts of Beijing. In 1747, the Qianlong Emperor ordered two missionaries at court, Giuseppe Castiglione and Michel Benoist, to draw up plans for a new palace complex to be built there, in the European style. According to Jesuit accounts, the Emperor had seen an image of a European fountain and Benoist was ordered to produce a model of it. The result greatly pleased the Emperor and prompted him to create his vision of a western palace and grounds. Referred to as the ‘European Palaces’, the architectural complex included buildings and gardens, and was planned as a series of enclosures forming separate views. Apart from some Chinese features, the overall style was clearly European, the sources being western books and prints in the imperial collections. An example is a set of engravings by Pérelle ‘Veues des plus beaux bâtimens de France’, which Louis XIV sent to the Kangxi Emperor in 1688.

    The dating of these prints varies; some have suggested 1781-1786 (Evelyn Rawski and Jessica Rawson, China: Three Emperors 1662-1795, exh.cat., London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005, no.91 and Michael Snodin and Nigel Llewellyn (eds), Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence, exh.cat., London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2009, no. 26).
    The date suggested here is based on information provided by Pirazzoli-T'Serstevens (1988): in a letter of 1786 to Louis-François Delatour, Father Bourgeois relates that in 1783 the Qianlong Emperor wanted to record his European Palaces as a series of copper-plate engravings which werre to be engraved by some Chinese students of [Giuseppe] Castiglione. Pirazzoli refers to Chinese archives stating that Yi Lantai made the sketches for the engravings which were printed in 1786.
    For further reading see:
    Michèle Pirazzoli T’Serstevens, Le Yuanmingyuan: Jeux d’Eau et Palais Européens du XVIIIe siècle à la cour de Chine, Paris: Editions Recherche sur les Civilisations, A.D.P.F. 1987
    Michèle Pirazzoli T’Serstevens, ‘The Emperor Qianlong’s European palaces’, Orientations, 1988, vol.19, no.11, pp. 61-71.
    Michèle Pirazzoli T’Serstevens. ‘Europeomania at the Chinese Court: The Palace of the Delights of Harmony (1747-1751), architecture and interior decoration’. Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 65. 2000-2001, pp. 47-60.

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  • Bibliography

    • von Spee 2010 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1916

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1916,0214,0.1

West façade of Aviary; Plate 6 from the set of twenty engravings.  View of the building in the centre foreground, a broad paved path leading up to it from the foreground, topiary set in a parterre on either side; to left of the building a panelled wall, to right a plain wall with tiled roof (possibly part of a low building); trees beyond.  Engraving in a linked album in wooden covers, containing a sub-set of thirteen engravings, each mounted in figured damask silk  Inscribed and numbered.

West façade of Aviary; Plate 6 from the set of twenty engravings. View of the building in the centre foreground, a broad paved path leading up to it from the foreground, topiary set in a parterre on either side; to left of the building a panelled wall, to right a plain wall with tiled roof (possibly part of a low building); trees beyond. Engraving in a linked album in wooden covers, containing a sub-set of thirteen engravings, each mounted in figured damask silk Inscribed and numbered.

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