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A Previously Unknown Map of the Yuanmingyuan

In 2016, a previously unknown map of the Yuanmingyuan圓明園 (the ‘Garden of Perfect Brightness’, on the outskirts of Beijing) appeared on the auction market (Bonhams San Francisco, 2016, lot 9096) (Fig. 1). The Yuanmingyuan was the preferred residence of the emperors of Qing dynasty (1644–1911) China from the time of its creation until it was destroyed by British and French forces in the wake of the Second Opium War (1856–60). Consisting of three vertical hanging scrolls, the map has recently been remounted, carefully preserving its original format. Drawn in ink and light colours on paper, it details the landscape features and, especially, the layout and plans of the buildings and other constructions in the garden. Such maps provide crucial insights into the Yuanmingyuan’s history

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January/February 2020
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