Tapestry: Les Astronomes, from L'Histoire de l'empereur de la Chine Series

Object Details

Title:

Tapestry: Les Astronomes, from L'Histoire de l'empereur de la Chine Series

Artist/Maker(s):

Beauvais Manufactory (French, founded 1664)

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

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

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

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

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1697 - 1705

Medium:

Wool and silk; modern cotton lining

Dimensions:

318.8 x 424.2 cm (125 1/2 x 167 in.)

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In a tapestry from the set known as The Story of the Emperor of China series, European and Chinese figures assemble on a stone terrace around an elaborately mounted globe. In the center of the group stands the Chinese emperor, wearing the imperial insignia of the winged dragon and gesturing with one hand while the other rests possessively on the globe. The bearded man taking a measurement on the globe with a pair of compasses is the German Jesuit priest, Father Schall von Bell, who attained a high rank in the Qing court through his knowledge of Western astronomy. He headed the Imperial Astronomical Bureau and developed a close personal relationship with the emperor, based on a shared interest in mathematics and astronomy.

The large globe, telescope, and the ecliptic armillary sphere on the dragon-shaped base represent actual objects made by the Chinese after European designs. The originals survive today in the observatory in Beijing.

Exhibitions
Imagining the Orient (October 5, 2004 to April 3, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 5, 2004 to April 3, 2005
Bibliography

Sassoon, Adrian, and Gillian Wilson. Decorative Arts: A Handbook of the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), pp. 99-100, no. 213.

Bremer-David, Charissa et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), pp. 167-68, no. 286.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 190.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 60, no. 44.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 190, ill.

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. 146-48, no. 296.

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) p. 376 (app. no. 24-C).

Related Media
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    Audio: The Astronomers / Emperor of China Tapestry
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    Audio: The Astronomers / Emperor of China Tapestry / Bremer-David