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Volume 36 – Number 8

Nov/Dec 2005

 


'China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795'

Detail of a tapestry with rams, goats and boys depicting the 'auspicious beginning of spring'
(with rhymed inscription in running script by the Qianlong emperor)
Suzhou, Qianlong period (1736-95)
Kesi
The Palace Museum, Beijing (Gu72695)

This special issue focuses on 'China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795', an exhibition opening at the Royal Academy fo Arts on 12 November. As a foreign dynasty and China's last, the Manchu Qing have been misunderstood and much maligned through most of the 20th century. In the last decade, research into imperial archives has cast more positive light on the dynasty's achievements; with the opening up of China's museums, material culture has shown that the Qing court at its height was a dazzling spectable that probably eclipsed its European counterpart at Versailles. This exhibition features loans from the Palace Museum in Beijing, many of them on view overseas for the first time. Lead curator Jessiva Rawson introduces the show's highlights. Alfreda Murck provides a poignant counterpoint by exploring how Chinese literati responded to Manchu invastion; while Regina Krahl explores the neglected artistic contributions of the Yongzheng emperor. Interviews with the academy's Exhibitions Secretary Norman Rosenthal and the show's designer Ivor Heal provide insight into how large-scale exhibitions like this are organized.
 
Maxwell Hearn and John Vollmer discuss more treasures of the Qing period as they write about Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart's gift of paintings and textiles to the University of Alberta.
 
We introduce two art fairs that are to be held in Hong Kong next year. A letter from New Orleans gives an update on the survival of art collections in teh devastated city. Our commentary celebrates a gift to the Sackler Gallery that represents a mile-stone in international cultural cooperation.  
 
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