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SOAS lecture: Beijing in the 18th Century

Jacqueline Simcox

Jacqueline Simcox will bring us a lecture for the SOAS short course: Beijing in the 18th Century!

Beijing in the Eighteenth century was the capital of the multi-ethnic Qing empire at the zenith of its power.

It was from Beijing, and the Forbidden City – the largest palace complex in the world – that three extraordinary Manchu emperors: Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong ruled over the fourth largest empire in world history with a population of 400 million people, creating the foundation and borders of modern China today. The capital, with its palaces and temples, was a major centre of trade with factories producing the finest porcelain, silk, lacquer, jade and many other art objects for its consumption.

Eighteenth century Beijing was also the home of Beijing opera and Cao Xueqin, writer of ‘Dream of the Red Mansions’, one of the greatest works of Chinese literature of all time. Foreign embassies vied to open trade and sent gifts of elaborate automaton clocks, and the emperor built himself European style palaces under the supervision of foreign Jesuits who introduced oil painting and chiaroscuro.

This online specialist art short course, offered in association with Asian Art in London, will explore the cultural contributions of this important period of Chinese history and how the dreams of China as the most powerful and culturally sophisticated empire on earth, still lingers on to this day.

Convened by Dr Edward Luper, Specialist for Chinese Works of Art at Bonhams New Bond Street in London, the course features additional contributions from specialists at SOAS University of London, the Hong Kong Palace Museum, Fo Guang University (Taiwan), University of California (Los Angeles) and more.