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  • Description

    Handscroll showing Chinese antiquities.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1728
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 62.5 centimetres (?)
  • Curator's comments

    Published PDF date : 1728Room 95 label text:

    PDF X01

    古玩圖 (Guwan tu ‘Pictures of Ancient Playthings’)

    This handscroll presents a very rare subject in China’s court painting history. It measures nearly twenty metres in length and provides a selective pictorial catalogue of antique items from the imperial collection, possibly documenting the contents of specific palace rooms.

    Nearly 250 assorted ceramics, jades, bronzes and other materials ranging in date from the Neolithic to about AD 1728 are arranged for variety of date, media and size. Most are shown on bespoke hardwood (zitan), silk-covered or stained ivory stands, and some with specially made covers. At the end is an unoccupied imperial throne which serves as reminder of the Yongzheng (r. AD 1723–35) emperor’s presence and of his enjoyment of objects from the past.

    The painting bears a label attesting that it is scroll 6 from a series of unknown size. Only one other similar scroll is known and it is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, dated AD 1729 and labelled 下(xia ‘bottom’) and number 8. This could suggest there were three parts to number 8 or just two. The numbering of two scrolls from different series suggests there were at least 14 scrolls and if all illustrated the same number of objects about 3,500 items could have been recorded altogether.

    The objects are depicted in such detail that actual physical models have been identified. For example, one Ru-ware bowl pictured on this scroll matches perfectly the bowl in case 52 but without the inscription. The anonymous artists’ style employs elements such as shading and perspective adopted from European painting conventions but sits firmly within Qing court traditions.

    Ink and colours on paper
    Anonymous artists of the Qing imperial painting academy
    Qing dynasty, Yongzheng period, dated equivalent to AD 1728


  • Location


  • Exhibition history


    2009 20 Apr- , The British Museum, Room 95. End of scroll displayed. Section measures 134.5cm from end of silk to end of section on display. Showing throne, crackle glazed Ru ware bowl and half of Ox with rider.

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    16 December 2008

    Treatment proposal

    Repair the edges; apply paper reinforcment strips; repair braids.


    Minor damage on the edges; some severe vertical creases; the braid worn.

    Treatment details

    Repaired the edges; applied paper reinforcment strips over the severe creases; repaired braids.

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

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Object reference number: RRC40048

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