National Palace Museum Explores the Collection and Packaging Aesthetics of the Qing Emperor Qianlong

Good things come in small packages.  For fervent art collectors like the Emperor Qianlong kept a treasure trove of delicate works of art, mastering the skill of storing as many good things as possible in small packages was essential. To better understand the collection and packaging aesthetics of the emperor, National Palace Museum in Taipei presents an exhibition titled “Story of a Brand Name - The Collection and Packaging Aesthetics of the Qing Emperor Qianlong” showcasing a variety of art objects from his collection.

Square red sandalwood curio box with carved dragon decoration

The square red sandalwood curio box is carved with dragon decoration. The ingenious space design, decoration methods, and the combination of materials all contributed to create this piece that represents the "hundred-item" curio box during the Qianlong reign.

The exhibited "hundred-item" curio box contains forty-four curios. Through the exploration of ancient jade wares, contemporary paintings and calligraphy works, lacquer wares from Japan and watch from the West; the display not only demonstrates the diverse origins of Qianlong's collection, but also emphasizes that the collection transcend the boundaries of time and space.

The square red sandalwood curio box consists of two tiers, the upper tier decorated with calligraphy works and paintings while the bottom tier contains various artworks including porcelains, jades, calligraphy works, paintings, Japanese lacquer ware, and Western box for the snuff bottle.

The fact that the imperial manuscript wrote by the Jiaqing emperor can be seen on both of the calligraphy work in seal script written by Zhao Bingchong and the landscape painted by Dong Gao suggests that this curio box was reassembled and extended by the Jiaqing's imperial court. This curio box revealed a unique tradition that the Qing court placed great attentions on compiling and organizing historical relics and passed it down through generations.

Chicken cups in doucai painted enamels. Ming dynasty, Chenghua reign (1465-1487)

Two sets of chickens were painted on the surface of the cup. The two exhibits came with the openwork wood cases made under authorization of the Qianlong emperor. The imperial poem written in the forty-first year of the Qianlong reign (1776) was carved on the case, which documented the journey of his connoisseurship. The numbering system produced by the 'Inventory committee of the Qing court' suggested that this piece was originally stored in the curios box located in Yangxin hall, Forbidden city.


Other highlights from the exhibition

Bi disk, with wood frame stand made in Qianlong reign, Qing dynasty

Zhutaizai bell, with red sandalwood frame made in Qianlong reign, Qing dynasty

Dual sack-shaped lacquer container with bamboo and grass decoration

Story of a Brand Name – The Collection and Packaging Aesthetics of the Qing Emperor Qing
Period: 2017/12/8 - 2017/3/7
Venue: Gallery: (Northern Branch) Exhibition Area I 105,107

Taipei National Palace Museum

Opening hours (exhibition I):
Sundays to Thursdays
8:30am - 6:30pm
Fridays to Saturdays
8:30am - 9pm
Address: 221 Section 2 of Zhishan Road, Shihlin District, Taipei
NT$230 (groups of 10 or more)
NT$150 (Students with valid international student ID)
Children under school age / People with disabilities and one accompanying person
Enquiries: 886-2-6610-3600