Monday, 7 April 2008

Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taiwan

February 26 till May 13, 2008
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

The collections of the National Palace Museum in Taipei, renowned as the world’s largest and most exquisite collection of Chinese art, derive from a tradition of imperial collecting that spanned a millennium. Begun and first catalogued during the Song dynasty (960-1279), the collection survived numerous changes of dynasties, foreign rulers and wars as the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage was regarded as one of the foremost duties of a Chinese emperor in order to fulfill his “heavenly mandate”.

The Qing dynasty (1644-1911) marked the high-point of this thousand-year-old history of collecting; its most dedicated collector was the Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1736-1795), celebrated by some as the greatest collector of all time. This sumptuous treasury eventually became part of the National Palace Museum Taipei which was founded in 1925 and now houses over 650.000 objects, making it one of the largest museums in the world.

Around 120 of these spectacular artworks – about a third of which have never before been exhibited abroad – will be on show at the KHM in Vienna from February 2008. Archaic ritual jades and bronze vessels, highlights from the museum’s world-famous collection of ceramics and porcelain, precious lacquer- and enamelwork, gold objects, ivory- and bamboo carvings as well artworks by some of the most famous Chinese masters of calligraphy and painting will be on show together with selected objects from the museum’s collection of precious books and documents. Together they will offer a fascinating introduction into the art of one of the world’s oldest civilisations.

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