Zheng Yangwen1
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  • 1 University of Manchester
Chinese Collection 457: the Call for Global History
in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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With the help of the Jesuits, the Qianlong emperor (often said to be Chinas Sun King in the long eighteenth century) built European palaces in the Garden of Perfect Brightness and commissioned a set of twenty images engraved on copper in Paris. The Second Anglo-Chinese Opium War in 1860 not only saw the destruction of the Garden, but also of the images, of which there are only a few left in the world. The John Rylands set contains a coloured image which raises even more questions about the construction of the palaces and the after-life of the images. How did it travel from Paris to Bejing, and from Belgium to the John Rylands Library? This article probes the fascinating history of this image. It highlights the importance of Europeans in the making of Chinese history and calls for studies of China in Europe.

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