The Yuanmingyuan and its Objects

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Abstract

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines the movements and shifting meanings attached to Yuanmingyuan artefacts. The Yuanmingyuan was one of the most important palace-garden complexes in imperial China. Known in the West as the "Summer Palace," the English term for the site is misleading, for this was not, in fact, a single edifice, but rather a grouping of classical gardens and waterways, with thousands of buildings, housing a vast art collection. The book discusses the origins, history, and development of the Yuanmingyuan in China, particularly in the eighteenth century, and its destruction in 1860 at the hands of British and French troops. It provides a summary of the movements of the substantial Diaspora of Yuanmingyuan material, from 1860, to distinct sites of representation and display in Britain and France. Yuanmingyuan treasures thus functioned as "material proof" of British power over China.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollecting and Displaying China's 'Summer Palace' in the West: The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France
EditorsLouise Tythacott
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter1
Pages3-24
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781315113395
ISBN (Print)9781138080553
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes

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