Images of Jiangnan

Chapter 4.1: Touring Jiangnan: The Qianlong Emperor’s Design Journey

Anyone can appreciate the fine scenery of Jiangnan; Where the heavens and earth conflate within your heart. -Wang Kaiyun (1833-1916), Qing dynasty

A group of designers accompanied the Qianlong Emperor on his southern inspection tour in 1751, and among them were members of the Lei Family. Qianlong’s six tours of the south not only inspired a trend for imitating Jiangnan garden scenery in the north.

The Qianlong Emperor with his deep fascination for Jiangnan scenery also composed a large number of poems about it. He ordered painters accompanying his tours to capture the garden scenery of Jiangnan, which served as a blueprint for the southern gardens at the Old Summer Palace.

This section of the exhibit uses authorized images from southern tour paintings in foreign collections combined with digital recreations to allow audiences to follow the Qianlong Emperor leaving the Old Summer Palace, unfolding a journey of design when the painting was made.

Chapter 4.2: Jiangnan Travels: From Hangzhou to the Old Summer Palace

The Qianlong Emperor brought silk brocades from the imperial textile factories in the south as well as carvings and other artwork to adorn members of the imperial family. From Hangzhou to the Old Summer Palace, a large interactive installation, based on imagery in the southern inspection tour along with a display of artifacts, allows audiences to understand the relationship between imperial artistic taste and Jiangnan during the Qing dynasty.

Chapter 4.3: Recalling Jiangnan: Images of the Old Summer Palace (Corridor of the Four Seasons)

From poetic and painterly to freehand and realistic constructions, and from Qianlong’s poetic and painterly renderings, audiences can experience enchanting manmade scenery where past and present intermingle in the four seasons at the Old Summer Palace.