Sign up for our mailing list

PUBLIC LECTURE : Re-defining the Collection of the Imperial Household during the Qianlong Reign

29 Apr 2017

Re-defining the Collection of the Imperial Household during the Qianlong Reign
In English with short summary in Chinese at suitable intervals
Dr. Nicole Chiang, Curator, The Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, UK

Saturday, 29 April 2017 / 4.30pm (Registration starts at 4pm)
Ngee Ann Auditorium, Asian Civilisations Museum 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555


The extant objects from the Qianlong court have had a longstanding impact on the formation of knowledge and connoisseurship of Chinese art. Present scholarship, however, is built on the presumption that there was a single, readily definable imperial art collection directed by one individual - the Qianlong emperor. The thought has been that he used the collection to impress his subjects and to demonstrate his supreme role as a universal ruler. This talk will reconsider those ideas and re-evaluate the historiography, implications, significance and function of the collection.

The speaker will argue that the actual collection contained a specific group of objects that is fewer than previously assumed. She will discuss the collective efforts of court members which contributed to the formation of the collection. The amount of work necessary for selection of objects has been overlooked, as most discussions have focused on the personal connoisseurship skills and taste of the emperor. Evidence shows that the true collection was, in fact, not publicly accessible. Assuming the collection was on view is a presumption that has coloured its interpretation. Perhaps it was not a demonstration of power and authority to the public, but rather more for domestic purposes.

About the Speaker

Dr Nicole Chiang earned an MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art before obtaining her Ph. D in History of Art and Archaeology in 2012 from SOAS, University of London. While pursuing her degrees, she worked and assisted in various capacity in National Palace Museum, Taipei, and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. She is currently Curator at the Museum of East Asian Art, Bath. She has participated in planning and curating 10 exhibitions at MEAA in additional collaborative exhibitions with the National Palace Museum, British Museum and Fitzwilliam Museum. She has published extensively and lectures at her alma mater, SOAS, in addition to Christie’s and the University of Glasgow.

This lecture is free but registration is required. Please email your name, email address and telephone number to either of the contacts below:

Emily Ang (SCCS)
Tel: 6222 9923

May Wong (China Society)
Tel: 6336 6743


Organised by SCCS jointly with The China Society. Venue sponsored by the Asian Civilisations Museum.

SCCS-CS_logos ACM logo stripped 320