In the Qianlong Garden, The Forbidden City
Nancy Berliner et al
- Part of Scala’s series on the World Monuments Fund’s restoration programmes
- Stunning photography illustrates the glorious transformation of the building
One of the five most important interiors to survive China’s imperial past, Juanqinzhai (Studio of Exhaustion From Diligent Service, sometimes called Lodge of Retirement) was all but abandoned when the last emperor left the Forbidden City in 1924. Built between 1771–76, the building was designed by China’s longest reigning emperor for his personal use after his retirement. It is situated in the exquisitely designed Qianlong Garden, within the Forbidden City. Never open to the public, the interiors of Juanqinzhai are the apogee of Chinese design and craftsmanship. The Studio was built when China was the largest and most prosperous nation in the world. Constructed with the finest materials and artistry available, it is meticulously decorated with bamboo-thread marquetry, white-jade cartouches, distinctive trompe-l’oeil murals and luxurious wall decorations. Largely in a state of disrepair, Juanqinzhai became the subject of an international restoration project, organised by the World Monuments Fund and the Palace Museum in 2001. The completion of the project in 2008 brings this spectacular building into public light for the first time.
Nancy Berliner is Curator of Chinese Art at the Peabody Essex Museum.