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Emperor's Private Paradise

The exhibition was organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in partnership with the Palace Museum and in cooperation with World Monuments Fund and has been made possible through generous support from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and American Express. Additional support was provided by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Freeman Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ECHO (Education through Cultural & Historical Organizations).

Exhibition objects

The Emperor's Private Paradise

Treasures from the Forbidden City

February 1–May 1, 2011

Accompanied by a catalogue

This loan exhibition organized by the Peabody Essex Museum presents some ninety paintings, decorative works, architectural elements, and religious works created for an elaborate two-acre private retreat built deep within the Forbidden City in 1771 as the retirement residence of one of China's most extravagant monarchs—the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–95)—who presided over China's last dynasty, the Qing, at the zenith of its power and wealth. No expense was spared to make this complex as sumptuous and comfortable as possible. The costliest materials, including rare woods, semiprecious stones, cloisonné, gilt bronze, porcelain, and lacquer were employed to ornament every surface of this world. In the end the emperor declined to retire here and the space remained a virtual time capsule relatively untouched since imperial times.

Related Exhibitions

Extravagant Display: Chinese Art in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries presents Qing-dynasty works from the Museum's permanent collection, including textiles, lacquers, ivories, jades, porcelains, and other objects.

Commemorating His Majesty features imperially commissioned paintings and calligraphies from the Qianlong era.