qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

The Three Emperors

kharin and I took the train to London on Saturday, to go and see the exhibition at the Royal Academy, China: The Three Emperors 1662-1795. It focuses on the early years of the Qing Dynasty, the rulers that conquered China from Manchu and consolidated its interior territories. Beginning with imperial portraits, the exhibition proceeds through many aspects of the imperial life. Many of the paintings take the form of scrolls, with the curious Chinese axonometric perspective, yet the detail on the masses of people portrayed is reminiscent of Breugels. The backgrounds are ubiquitously light, even for portrait painting, and often with a fantasy depiction of mountains and waterfalls (these also made me think of the typical depictions of Middle Earth).

Some of the more interesting artefacts were stone chimes and bells used in seasonal religious festivals, and globes and stone sculptures. At the shop I bought a CD of classical Chinese music from the period: it's very soothing, even the couple of tracks with vocals (which are more animated, but not nearly as caterwauling as the Mongolian vocals on the Yo-Yo Ma Silk Road Ensemble CD).
Tags: exhibitions, london
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