How We Helped
Qianlong Garden Conservation Project
Occupying almost two acres in the northeast quadrant of the Forbidden City, the Qianlong Garden was built by the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) to serve as a part of his planned retirement complex for use following his 60-year reign. He designed the garden as a private retreat, with four courtyards, elaborate rockeries, and some 27 pavilions and structures. The buildings contain decoration and furnishings from a time widely considered to be one of the boldest and most extravagant periods of interior design in China's history. They represent some of the most significant, exquisitely designed interiors to survive relatively unchanged from imperial China.
How We Helped
Work began on one building in 2001, but in 2004 the Palace Museum and WMF undertook a comprehensive review of the entire Qianlong Garden site and developed a master plan for its conservation. This is being carried out in four distinct phases, all to be completed by 2019. The first large-scale garden project, completed in 2008, was the conservation of Juanqinzhai (Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service). Intended to be used for relaxation and entertainment, the studio's exquisite interiors include a private theater and a receiving room. The buildings currently undergoing restoration are Fuwangge (Belvedere of Viewing Achievements), Zhuxiangguan (Lodge of Bamboo Fragrance), and Yucuixuan (Bower of Purest Jade)
Why It Matters
During the Qianlong Emperor's reign (1735-1796), China was the world's largest and richest civilization, and was extensively engaged with other countries. While the impact of Chinese art and architecture on European art of this period is well known, the interiors of the Qianlong Garden demonstrate that this impact was reciprocal, revealing influences such as that of Giuseppe Castiglione, a Jesuit missionary and painter who settled in China around 1715. The interiors also contain large trompe l'oeil silk murals that incorporate Western artistic techniques of perspective and chiaroscuro and are among the very few surviving examples of their genre in all of China. Largely dormant since 1924, following the departure of the last emperor, the site fell into disrepair and thus requires extensive conservation.