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

Object Details


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


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)




Beauvais, France (Place created)


about 1697 - 1705


Wool and silk; modern cotton lining


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.

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
Education Resources

Education Resource




Asian Influences Curriculum

Science and Exploration in the Decorative Arts

Lesson in which students understand the Age of Exploration and the Scientific Revolution through studying European decorative arts.

Visual Arts; History–Social Science


Two-Part Lesson

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