Yuanming Yuan

Ernst Ohlmer: Imperial summer palace in China (Beijing), destructed 1860, China, 1873. Photography on album paper.
Mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Kunstbibliothek. © bpk-Bildagentur

The summer palace of the Emperor of China extends over a huge area. In fact, this “palace” was a multitude of smaller, often single-story buildings. They were picturesquely scattered in an artificial landscape of lakes, rivers and mountains. The summer palace was therefore also called the “Garden of Gardens”. Some of the buildings were designed in the spirit of the Baroque – by an Italian Jesuit who enjoyed a special position at the court of Emperor Qianlong and went by the name Lang Shining.
The “Garden of Gardens” was so large that it took the British-French troops a whole three days and nights to loot and destroy it. That was in 1860, during the Second Opium War. The looted art treasures are today distributed among 47 museums worldwide.