Emperors’ Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum
Nine goats bring peace to the New Year. Qing dynasty, reign of the Qianlong emperor (1736–1795). Tapestry (kesi) with embroidery. National Palace Museum, Taipei, Gusi 000096. Photograph © National Palace Museum, Taipei.
Emperors’ Treasures, which opened to the public at the Asian Art Museum yesterday and continues through September 18, is an exhibition of greatest hits from the Chinese imperial collections. Objects on display span nearly a millennium of imperial rule, from the time of the early Song-dynasty ruler the Huizong emperor, who reigned in the early twelfth century, through that of the formidable regent Cixi (pronounced something like “Tsuhshee”), the Qing-dynasty counterpoint to England’s Victoria, who ruled by proxy from 1861 through 1908. Objects are grouped around a set of nine Chinese rulers.
Museum exhibitions might be divided into those that are narrative-driven and those that are great objects driven (the latter might be termed “connoisseur shows”). I confess to a preference for narrative, but the objects on display in Emperors’ Treasures are of such high quality and have so rarely toured that this is a show not to be missed if you have any interest at all in imperial Chinese art. If you’re a selective museum-goer who is likely to attend only a couple of AAM exhibitions this year, this one and the Ramayana show opening in October are the ones to see.
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