The British Museum in London is hosting a special exhibition of the nineteenth century China. Between 1796 and 1912 Qing China endured numerous civil uprisings and foreign wars, with revolution ultimately bringing an end to some 2,000 years of dynastic rule and giving way to a modern Chinese republic. This period of violence and turmoil was also one of extraordinary creativity, driven by political, cultural and technological change. In the shadow of these events lie stories of remarkable individuals — at court, in armies, in booming cosmopolitan cities and on the global stage.
Exquisite objects are brought together for the first time — from cloisonné vases given by the Last Emperor’s court to King George and Queen Mary for their coronation in 1911, to a silk robe commissioned by the Empress Dowager Cixi. The show illuminates the lives of individuals — an empress, a dancer, a soldier, an artist, a housewife, a merchant and a diplomat.
Visitors will glimpse the textures of life in 19th-century China through art, fashion, newspapers, furniture — even soup ingredients. Many people not only survived but thrived in this tumultuous world. New art forms, such as photography and lithographic printing, flourished while technology and transport — the telegraph, electricity, railways — transformed society.
This extraordinary exhibition, which runs through October 8, 2023, will open a new page in public understanding of late imperial China.
Source: The British Museum