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Volume 45 – Number 4

May 2014

For five centuries, the Forbidden City—now The Palace Museum, Beijing—served as home and court to China’s emperors. With the dramatic fall of the Qing dynasty, the gates were opened to the public for the first time, revealing a treasure trove of more than a million objects.

‘The Forbidden City’, a major collaborative exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, focuses on life within this mysterious enclave through the presentation of some 250 objects from the Palace Museum—many on view outside China for the first time—selected both for their artistry and for what they reveal about the lives of the Ming and Qing emperors and their families. Contributing to this issue with articles on various aspects of imperial history, art and culture are the exhibition’s lead curator Chen Shen, co-curator Wen-chien Cheng and curatorial adviser Sarah Fee, together with Jianfei He, John Vollmer, Yongxing Li and Chenlong Lu.

In other articles, Stephen Little discusses Japanese collecting of Chinese paintings, describing major trends over the centuries in the context of trade and geopolitical events, and Tianlong Jiao illustrates how documents such as the Selden Map of China and the Laud rutter manuscript reflect different world views in the 17th century. 

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