In October 1860, at the culmination of the Second Opium War, British and French troops looted and destroyed one of the most important palace complexes in imperial China—the Yuanmingyuan. Known in the West as the "Summer Palace," this site consisted of thousands of buildings housing a vast art collection. It is estimated that over a million objects may have been taken from the palaces in the Yuanmingyuan—and many of these are now scattered around the world, in private collections and public museums. With contributions from leading specialists, this is the first book to focus on the collecting and display of "Summer Palace" material over the past 150 years in museums in Britain and France. It examines the way museums placed their own cultural, political and aesthetic concerns upon Yuanmingyuan material, and how displays—especially those at the Royal Engineers Museum in Kent, the National Museum of Scotland and the Musée Chinois at the Château of Fontainebleau—tell us more about European representations and images of China, than they do about the Yuanmingyuan itself.

part I|50 pages


chapter 1|22 pages

The Yuanmingyuan and its Objects

ByLouise Tythacott

chapter 2|13 pages

The Afterlives of a Ruin

The Yuanmingyuan in China and the West
ByJames L. Hevia

chapter 3|13 pages

From the Summer Palace 1860

Provenance and Politics
ByNick Pearce

part II|69 pages

The Yuanmingyuan in Britain

chapter 4|19 pages

The Yuanmingyuan and Design Reform in Britain

ByKate Hill

chapter 5|15 pages

“True Beauty of Form and Chaste Embellishment”

Summer Palace Loot and Chinese Porcelain Collecting in Nineteenth-century Britain
ByStacey Pierson

chapter 6|12 pages

“Chinese Gordon” and the Royal Engineers Museum

ByJames Scott

chapter 7|21 pages

“Rose-water Upon His Delicate Hands”

Imperial and Imperialist Readings of the Hope Grant Ewer
ByKevin McLoughlin

part III|47 pages

The Yuanmingyuan in France

chapter 9|11 pages

Empress Eugénie’s Chinese Museum at the Château of Fontainebleau

An Unusual Décor in the “House of the Ages” 1
ByVincent Droguet

chapter 10|19 pages

Yuanmingyuan on Display

Ornamental Aesthetics at the Musée Chinois
ByGreg M. Thomas