- Museum number
Object: 觀水法正面 Guanshuifa zhengmian (Viewing the Great Fountain main façade)
Object: The Yuanming yuan European Palaces
Series: Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan
Plate 16 from a set of twenty engravings. Vantage point for viewing the Great Fountain immediately opposite, with the Emperor’s throne in the centre, reached by a paved path in the foreground which bifurcates and also leads to steps in front of two arches set in hedges to left and right of the view; in the foreground, ornamentally clipped tall trees; in the background, perimeter wall and trees beyond. Engraving in an album; inscribed and numbered.
- Production date
- 1783-1786 (circa)
Height: 64.30 centimetres (mount)
Height: 50.70 centimetres (trimmed; paper sheet)
Width: 97.50 centimetres (mount)
Width: 87.60 centimetres (trimmed; paper sheet)
- Curator's comments
- This image depicts the vantage point for viewing the Great Fountain immediately opposite, depicted in another print (1916,0214,0.4) and shows the emperor's throne in the centre, backed by an ornate wall. European features include the use of topiary, clipped hedges, symmetrically arranged paths and obelisks. Paradoxically, at a time when Europeans were introducing Chinese characteristics of irregularity and 'natural' landscaping in their gardens, along with pavilions and pagodas, the Qianlong emperor's European Palaces displayed features of the more formal taste in European garden design which was being superseded.
In 1860, French and British troops looted and destroyed the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanmingyuan), leaving the European Palaces in ruins. Some evidence of their former splendour is provided by these engravings, early photographs and written accounts. The set of twenty copperplate prints, commissioned by the emperor, was prduced byt Chinese engravers after sketches by the court painter Yi Lantai. Each plate is engraved with the title and plate number.
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: 1916,0214,0.1 to 1916,0214,0.4 and 1924,0523,0.13 to 1924.0523,0.21.
For further information, see 1916,0214,0.1.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number