A Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor, 1736-1795
The Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor, 1736-1795 is an exhibition showing at the National Gallery of Victoria and features more that 120 works from the prestigious Palace Museum, Beijing. It tells the story of China’s foremost art collector Qianlong Emperor whose vision was to create a new golden age modeled on the ideals of ancient China.
The exhibition includes large-scale paintings on silk, imperial gold seals, stunning jewellery, court robes, extraordinary ceremonial hats and beautiful pieces of ivory and jade. A collection of swords, bows and arrows also form part of the collection.
Several court robes are featured which are highly decorated with traditional Chinese symbols. Bright yellow was a colour reserved for the Emperor only. This example of a court robe reveals intricate traditional Chinese symbols and would have been worn when presiding over grand ceremonies. One fascinating aspect of the design is the flared cuffs, created to resemble the hoofs of a horse – a reference to Manchu’s equestrian origins.
Headdresses in the collection are particularly fascinating. This piece features elaborate decoration including gold, pearls, silk floss, kingfisher feathers, precious stones mounted on sable. It’s beautiful. Other personal items of interest are shoes, bracelets and extraordinary nail protectors that are made of silver gilt, pearl and precious stones.
The hairpins and ornaments are equally fascinating. This beautiful hair ornament featuring chrysanthemums is enhanced with kingfisher feathers affixed onto the metal framework. Ornamental use of birds’ feathers has a long tradition in China.
If your interest lies in ceramics you won’t be disappointed as there is a fine collection of exquisite snuff bottles, vases, incense burners, and lidded boxes and jars.
Several large paintings on silk offer an intriguing insight into life in China during that period as the Emperor sought to document events as well as ensure self-promotion on a grand scale.
An Italian Jesuit, Giuseppe Castiglione who arrived in Beijing in 1715 was employed as court painter in 1736. His skill in preparatory drawing before tracing onto silk synthesized Chinese and European traditions and produced these magnificent paintings
Also exhibited are paintings and calligraphy by the Emperor himself.
The Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor, 1736-1795 exhibition offers us a unique opportunity to explore and become acquainted with China’s immense historical and cultural heritage.
Details of the exhibition:
27 Mar 15 – 21 Jun 15
(exc. public holidays)
Voluntary Guide tours
For further information click here