Splendors of China's Fobidden City

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) will present what is considered to be one of the most important and historical art exhibitions from China to tour the United States, Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong, which opens Nov. 21, 2004 and closes May 29, 2005.

As one of only two U.S. venues for this landmark show, the Dallas Museum of Art will bring more than 400 national treasures and artifacts from 18th-century imperial China to the Southwest and the region. Splendors of China’s Forbidden City offers a dramatic examination of the reign of Emperor Qianlong. Most items have never before been seen in the United States, and many have never traveled outside the walls of the Forbidden City Palace Museum in Beijing.

Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong and its national tour were developed by The Field Museum, Chicago, in cooperation with the Palace Museum, Beijing. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Anne Bromberg, The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and South Asian Art of the Dallas Museum of Art, will be the content specialist for the presentation in Dallas.

The Dallas venue is made possible by Nancy B. Hamon and presented by JPMorgan Chase with support from Texas Instruments and PAJ, Inc. The installation and opening member events are generously underwritten by the Dallas Museum of Art League. The exhibition lecture series is supported by the Boshell Family Foundation.

Additional support provided by FedEx Kinko’s Office and Print Services, Inc., Jim and Hong Bass and the Bass Foundation, Robert W. Hsueh, and the Donor Circle Membership Program through a leadership gift of Jennifer and John Eagle/John Eagle Dealerships. The hotel partner for the exhibition is The Wyndham Anatole. Air transportation provided by American Airlines. Promotional support provided by CBS 11 and Comcast.

“The Dallas Museum of Art is extremely pleased and honored to be able to offer this extraordinary view of China’s richest and most culturally prolific period,” said John R. Lane, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “This is an unprecedented opportunity for people from Dallas and beyond to experience the dazzling, beautiful and culturally important objects that represent the best of a great civilization.”

Emperor Qianlong (cheeyen-loong) ruled for 60 years (1736–1795), during China’s last imperial dynasty, the Qing dynasty. His reign was longer than any other emperor in Chinese history apart from his grandfather, Kangxi. The emperor is best known to art historians as a collector who amassed the largest collection of art known up to that point in China. His passion for collecting extended to paintings, porcelain, bronzes, jades, writing implements, and rare books. Qianlong is credited with pacifying the warring territories of western China, fostering innovation in the arts, and commissioning a comprehensive edition of all existing Chinese literature.

The 10,000-square foot Splendors of China’s Forbidden City exhibition will feature a series of carefully crafted environments based on actual palace settings. Visitors can view the elaborate gold-lacquered Dragon Throne from which the emperor ruled; the desk he worked at, the table where he dined, and the private chamber of one of the emperor’s wives. Objects on view never before seen outside China include the emperor’s funeral throne and spirit tablet, a monolithic carved jade boulder, the 5-foot high gold stupa commissioned by Qianlong to commemorate his mother, and eight paintings by the great Jesuit court artist, Giuseppe Castiglione, including portraits of Qianlong and his first wife and empress, Xiaoxian.

The exhibition also explores the private world of Qianlong and will include artifacts reflecting his refined taste, including beautiful jade carvings he commissioned and the essays he wrote about them; a selection of the 10,000 snuff bottles he collected; lacquer ware and ceramics demonstrating a variety of innovative techniques, which he encouraged; examples of his own calligraphy work; and some of the more than 44,000 poems he wrote.

Cost of admission to Splendors of China’s Forbidden City is $16 for adults, $14 for senior citizens, children 12 and older and students with current school identification, and $10 for children ages 6 to 11. DMA members and children under 6 are free. Admission includes an audio tour. Tickets are available online at www.Ticketmaster.com and at all Ticketmaster outlets. The number to charge tickets by phone is 214/373-8000. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more; contact groupsales@DallasMuseumofArt.org or 214/922-1803.