Don’t Miss: Treasures From The Forbidden City (Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York)

Exhibition Features 90 Rare Items From The Reign Of Emperor Qianlong

Portrait of the young Qianlong Emperor (Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Portrait of the young Qianlong Emperor

Launching this week and running through May 1, “The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York features 90 seldom seen items dating back to the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799). One of the longest-ruling emperors in imperial Chinese history, Qianlong has achieved immense popularity among Chinese collectors, many of whom see his time in power as the high point of the Qing Dynasty, with Qianlong-era vases and court seals regularly selling for millions at recent auctions in China and Europe.

Featuring highlights such as a larger-than-life portrait of the Qianlong Emperor, a rare silk panel depicting a Buddhist shrine, ornate thrones and a monumental 16 panel jade-and-lacquer screen, “The Emperor’s Private Paradise” offers visitors a rare window into the court of one of the most famous Chinese historical rulers. Additionally, the exhibition includes photo murals of the Qianlong Garden as well as a video-simulated “walk-through” of the Forbidden City’s Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service (Juanqinzhai), the site of a $3 million joint Sino-US restoration project completed in 2008.

Qianlong-era artifacts are among the most coveted by Chinese collectors

Qianlong-era artifacts are among the most coveted by Chinese collectors

Installed in the Metropolitan Museum’s Galleries for Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, which wrap around a Ming-style garden court and a collection of Chinese hardwood furniture, the exhibition leads viewers through a series of thematic galleries, mirroring the actual Qianlong garden’s multiple courtyards. Gallery themes include theatrical performances and trompe l’oeil illusions, Buddhist worship or meditation, the “three friends” of wintry weather (pine, plum, and bamboo), and exotic foreign environments and furnishings. Topping off nearly every space is a unique throne, each of which differs in its design and materials, reflecting the notoriously eclectic tastes of the Qianlong Emperor.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Metropolitan Museum will offer a variety of educational programs through May, including a museum-wide celebration of Chinese Lunar New Year on February 5, a “Sunday at the Met” lecture program on February 6, a subscription event with author Amy Tan and curator Maxwell Hearn on March 10, films about the Forbidden City, and gallery talks. Members of the Jing Daily team attended a press opening this week, and we can say that Qianlong’s treasures are not to be missed.

The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City (February 1 – May 1, 2011)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
Tel: (212) 535-7710 ‎


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