Forbidden City Treasures Exhibited at Met Museum

January 31, 2011 Updated: September 8, 2012
HERO: A painting of a Qing Dynasty warrior is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. Maxwell K. Hearn, a Douglas Dillon Curator of Asian Art, explains the significance of the work. (Phoebe Zheng/Epoch Times Staff)
HERO: A painting of a Qing Dynasty warrior is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. Maxwell K. Hearn, a Douglas Dillon Curator of Asian Art, explains the significance of the work. (Phoebe Zheng/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Anyone who has a passion for Chinese art and civilization should head over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Beginning Tuesday Feb. 1, visitors to the Met will have the opportunity to feast their eyes on some of the most exquisite treasures that once graced the emperor’s private garden in the Forbidden City. 

This unique exhibition presents 18th century Chinese works of artistic achievement at their pinnacle. The exhibition features 90 splendid art items including silk scrolls, paintings, murals, furniture, Buddhist icons, jades, and cloisonné from the Qianlong Garden, also called the Tranquility and Longevity Palace Garden. The splendid exhibits reveal the private garden retreat of Emperor Qianlong.

Emperor Qianlong (pronounced as “chien long”) was the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty in China. During his rule from 1736 to 1795, China was the world’s biggest and richest civilization. A connoisseur of art, a dedicated scholar, and a devout Buddhist, Emperor Qianlong created a lavish and secluded garden paradise for his private enjoyment and retirement.

ANCIENT MODEL: An architectural model from the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) of a building in China. (Phoebe Zheng/Epoch Times Staff)
ANCIENT MODEL: An architectural model from the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) of a building in China. (Phoebe Zheng/Epoch Times Staff)

The interior décor, ornamental furniture, religious works of art, and the elaborate architectural designs of the exhibits reflect Emperor Qianlong’s extensive communications with other countries during his reign. He made every effort to make this garden retreat splendid and sumptuous. Emperor Qianlong chose the finest artisans and the highest quality materials including cloisonné, gilt bronze, lacquer, porcelain, rare woods, and semiprecious stones.

This unique exhibition also illustrates the emperor’s endeavor to blend art, culture, and nature. Highlights of the exhibition comprise a portrait of the Emperor Qianlong, a silk panel portraying a Buddhist shrine, magnificent thrones executed with impeccable craftsmanship, and a monumental jade-and-lacquer screen consisting of 16 panels.

“The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City” exhibition begins Tuesday, Feb. 1, and continues until May 1 at the Galleries for Chinese Painting and Calligraphy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.