The Twenty Views of the European Palaces of the Yuanmingyuan thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery

The Twenty Views of the European Palaces of the Yuanmingyuan

Print
1783-1786 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The European Pavilions (Xiyanglou) located in the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace in Beijing were the grandest expressions of the Qing rulers' interest in the arts of Europe. Most of the buildings were completed between 1756 to 1766. In 1783, the Qianlong emperor commissioned a set of copperplate engravings depicting twenty views of the European Pavilions and these was printed by 1786. Copies were kept in the palace and an additional 200 sets were given to imperial relatives, high officials, and other guests. The album in the V&A would have been one of the 200 sets. It is missing the first image - the south view of the Xieqiqu (Pavilion Harmonizing Surprise and Delight). The prints were designed and probably produced by a Manchu court artist Yi Lantai (fl. 1749-86) who was trained by Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), the Italian Jesuit artist who worked at the Qing court. This album provides an important visual record of the European Pavilions of the Yuanmingyuan that was destroyed by English and French troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
copperplate engraving on paper
Brief Description
Album, 19 views of the European Palaces of the Yuanmingyuan, copperplate engraving on paper, China, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period, 1783-1786
Physical Description
Engraving on paper, mounted in album, depicting the west view of the Haiyantang (Hall of Calm Seas). Inscription on top right. Seals in red on the border.
Dimensions
  • Height: 20.25in
  • Width: 34.75in
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 朗甫 (Red seal mark, bottom left. Lang Fu was the style name of Yuan Xuegeng 袁學賡 (active 1850s and 60s), a native of Guangdong and a seal carver. )
  • 墨? (Red seal mark on border, bottom left. )
  • 海晏堂西面十 (Top right corner)
Gallery Label
View of the Calm Sea Palace Qianlong reign period 1781-1786 This European-style palace was one of the halls in the Yuanming Yuan, the Emperor Qianlong's summer residence. The palace was designed by Jesuit priests based on Baroque models. Copperplate engraving on paper(2009)
Object history
In 1783, the Qianlong emperor commissioned a set of copperplate engravings depicting twenty views of the European pavilions in the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace. Copies of the engravings were kept in the palace, and an additional 200 sets were given to imperial relatives, high officials, and other guests. This album, which is missing the first scene, would have been one of the 200 sets. The seal marks on the album suggest that it was in China but not in the Yuanmingyuan around 1860. It was acquired by the V&A on 2 February 1883, described as 'Chinese engravings. Nineteen views of palaces and gardens, folio-folded plates', purchased from E. Parsons.





Subjects depicted
Summary
The European Pavilions (Xiyanglou) located in the Yuanmingyuan or Old Summer Palace in Beijing were the grandest expressions of the Qing rulers' interest in the arts of Europe. Most of the buildings were completed between 1756 to 1766. In 1783, the Qianlong emperor commissioned a set of copperplate engravings depicting twenty views of the European Pavilions and these was printed by 1786. Copies were kept in the palace and an additional 200 sets were given to imperial relatives, high officials, and other guests. The album in the V&A would have been one of the 200 sets. It is missing the first image - the south view of the Xieqiqu (Pavilion Harmonizing Surprise and Delight). The prints were designed and probably produced by a Manchu court artist Yi Lantai (fl. 1749-86) who was trained by Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), the Italian Jesuit artist who worked at the Qing court. This album provides an important visual record of the European Pavilions of the Yuanmingyuan that was destroyed by English and French troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War.
Bibliographic Reference
Jackson, Anna & Jaffer, Amin (eds.) Encounters : the meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, London, V&A, 2004
Collection
Accession Number
29452:9

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record createdJuly 5, 2004
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