The J. Paul Getty Museum

Tapestry: L'Embarquement de l'impératrice, from L'Histoire de l'empereur de la Chine Series

Object Details


Tapestry: L'Embarquement de l'impératrice, from L'Histoire de l'empereur de la Chine Series


After designs by Guy-Louis Vernansal (French, 1648 - 1729)

and Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (French, 1636 - 1699)

and Jean-Baptiste Belin de Fontenay (French, 1653 - 1715)

Woven at the Beauvais Manufactory (French, founded 1664)

under the direction of Philippe Béhagle (French, 1641 - 1705)




design about 1690; weave about 1697–1705


Wool and silk

Object Number:



367.6 × 310.5 cm (144 3/4 × 122 1/4 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

As imagined by a French designer of luxury goods who had probably never been to China, the wife of the Chinese emperor Shun Chi embarks on a pleasure boat ride. Three servants attend the empress, one of whom plays a portable keyboard instrument and sings. Other musicians, acrobats, dancing rats, and monkeys entertain her from the landing.

Originally one of a popular, frequently woven set of ten tapestries, this particular subject, "The Empress Sailing," was least common among the series. Only one other surviving example is known.

Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, comte de Toulouse, commissioned this specific tapestry as part of a set for his country residence outside Paris. Nine tapestries from his set are known to survive, each with borders of the same design, including his monogram LA in the four blue ovals of the border. The Getty Museum owns seven tapestries from this set.

by 1705 - 1737

Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, comte de Toulouse and duc de Penthièvre, French, 1678 - 1737 (at the Château de Rambouillet by 1718), by inheritance to his son, Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon.

1737 - 1793

Louis-Jean-Marie de Bourbon, duc de Penthièvre, French, 1725 - 1793, by inheritance to his daughter, Louise-Marie-Adélaïde de Bourbon.

1793 - 1821

Louise-Marie-Adélaïde de Bourbon, French, 1753 - 1821, by inheritance to her son, Louis-Philippe d'Orléans.

1821 - 1852

Louis-Philippe d'Orléans, king of France, 1773 - 1850 [sold, Catalogue des Tapisseries Anciennes...Tapis provenant de la succession du feu roi Louis-Phillippe, Domaine de Monceaux, Paris, January 28, 1852, lot 13, as one of two tapestries.]

by 1940 - by 1943

Baronne Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild, French, 1884 - 1965 (2 Rue Leonardo da Vinci, Paris, France), looted by the Nazis.
Source: The tapestry is #132 in volume 2 of the Lists of Property Removed from France During the War (NARA M1949, RG 260, Roll 32); Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg card for ERR number R 244 (NARA M1943 RG 260 Reel 17).

by 1943 - 1945

In the possession of the Nazis (stored at the German Embassy in Paris; transferred to the Jeu de Paume, Paris; sent to Kremsmünster, Austria to a holding location for artworks destined for the Führermuseum on May 20, 1943; sent to the salt mines at Altaussee, Austria), recovered by the Allied Forces, 1945.
Source: Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg database for ERR number R 244; Database on the Linzmuseum, Deutsches Historisches Museum for Linz #1501; Records for artworks recovered from the Altaussee salt mines, Aussee #8813 (NARA M1926 RG 260 Reel 150).

1945 - 1948

In custody of the Allied Forces (the salt mines at Altaussee, Austria; transferred to the Munich Central Collecting Point on June 27, 1946), released to the French government, January 21, 1948.
Source: Munich Central Collecting Point card for Munich number 33905 (Database on Munich Central Collecting Point, Deutsches Historisches Museum); NARA M1946 RG 260 Reel 231; Bundesarchiv, B323/634 and B323/682.

1948 -

French government, restituted to Baronne Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild.
Source: Receipt F-84 from the French government, May 5, 1948, for French claim number 356 (NARA M1926 RG 260 Reel 45 and 155).

- 1965

Baronne Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild, French, 1884 - 1965, by inheritance to her nephew, Baron Edmond de Rothschild.

1965 - 1967

Baron Edmond Adolphe Maurice Jules Jacques de Rothschild, French, 1926 - 1997 [sold, Tableaux Anciens, Antiques - Haute Époque, Art d'Asie, Bel Ameublement du XVIIIe Siècle, Palais Galliera, Paris, March 7, 1967, lot 152, for 42,000 francs]

by 1990
1998 - 1999

Galerie Perpitch and Galerie Chevalier (Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999.

Louis XIV at the Getty (June 9, 2015 to July 31, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 9, 2015 to July 31, 2016

Montié, and de Dion. "Quelque documents sur le Duchépairie de Rambouillet." Mémoirs et documents publiés par la Société archéologique de Rambouillet 7 (1886), pp. 208, 227.

Badin, Jules. La manufacture de tapisseries de Beauvais depuis ses origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris: Société de propagation des livres d'art, 1909), p. 13.

Hunter, George Leland. The Practical Book of Tapestries (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1925), p. 162.

A Private Exhibition of Beauvais Tapestries, exh. cat. (New York: Georges Haardt and Co., Inc., 1926), unpaginated.

Szokolny, Dr. "Vom amerikamischen Kunstmarket." Cicerone 18 (1926), pp. 71-72.

Jarry, Madeleine. "Chinoiseries à la mode de Beauvais." Plaisir de France 429 (May 1975), pp. 54-59.

Standen, Edith A. "The Story of the Emperor of China: A Beauvais Tapestry Series." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal 12 (1976), pp. 103-17.

Jarry, Madeleine. "La vision de la Chine dans les tapisseries de la manufacture royale de Beauvais: Les premières tentures chinoises." Les Rapports entre la Chine et l'Europe au temps des lumières: actes du IIe colloque international de sinologie, Centre de recherches interdisciplinaire de chantilly (CERIC), 16-18 septembre 1977 (Paris: Belles Lettres, 1980), pp. 173-83.

Standen, Edith Appleton. European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2 vols. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985), vol. 2, pp. 461-68.

Coural, Jean, and Chantal Gastinel-Coural. Beauvais: Manufacture nationale de tapisserie (Paris: Centre national des Arts plastiques, with Mobilier national, 1992), p. 24.

Bremer-David, Charissa. French Tapestries and Textiles in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 80-97 (ill. p. 94).

Windt, Franziska. "Jean II. Brraband - Bildteppich 'Die Audienz beim Kaiser von China'." Kultur Stiftung der Länder - Patrimonia 182 (2000), p. 8, n. 5, pp. 15-17.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 146-47, no. 296.

Lefranc, Celine. "La tapisseries de L'Embarquemant de l'Imperatrice." Connaissance des arts 610 (November 2003), pp. 98-101.

Wilson, Gillian, et al. French Furniture and Gilt Bronzes: Baroque and Régence: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008), pp. 376-77, fig. 24-G.

Bremer-David, Charissa. "The Emperor Sailing from The Story of the Emperor of China." European Tapestries in the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. Koenraad Brosens, ed.  (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, with Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 276, 277, n. 24.

Bremer-David, Charissa. "The Tapestry Patronage of Madame de Montespan and Her Family." Tapestry in the Baroque: New Aspects of Production and Patronage. Thomas P. Campbell and Elizabeth A. H. Cleland, eds. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010), pp. 331, 340, nn. 50-51.

Reyniès, Nicole de and Clotilde Roy. "La Tapisserie en France au Grand Siècle: Un Âge d'Or de Culture et de Gloire." Du Moyen Âge à Nous Jours, La Tapisserie Française. Benoît-Henry Papounaud, ed. (Paris: Éditions du patrimoine, Centre des mounments nationaux, 2017), pp. 166, 331, nn. 568, 574.

Lauterbach, Iris. The Central Collecting Point in Munich: A New Beginning for the Restitution and Protection of Art. Fiona Elliott, trans. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2018), pp. 117-18, fig. 127.