The Emperor's Private Paradise
Treasures from the Forbidden City
February 1–May 1, 2011
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.
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.