August 2010, (22,9 x 30,5 cm), 300 pp. English text, 120 colour and 40 b/w. ills., hardcover with dustwrappers.
For centuries, China's Forbidden City has captured the world's imagination. Parts of the Forbidden City have been open to the public since 1925, and nearly 8 million tourists flock there annually. Yet the elegant, intimate Qianlong Garden - itself within a 'mini-Forbidden City' inside the Forbidden City - has remained sequestered from public view. Dating from the eighteenth century, the Qianlong Garden was built as a retirement retreat for its namesake emperor, a visionary patron of the arts who designed his garden to reflect a perfect union of art, architecture, and nature. Now undergoing restoration as a result of a groundbreaking international collaboration, it is intended to be fully open to visitors in 2019. Well in advance of this opening date, "The Emperor's Private Paradise" gives an in-depth analysis of the garden - the most refined and elegant of imperial Chinese gardens, and containing some of the most extravagant imperial interiors still existing. This volume also interprets the many artworks commissioned for the garden by the emperor as expressions of ancient cultural values and new perspectives. Essays offering an overview of the history of Chinese gardens and the extraordinary reign of the Qianlong emperor complement and contextualize the importance of the Qianlong Garden and its artworks. This lavishly illustrated volume is published to accompany an unprecedented exhibition of ninety objects from the Qianlong Garden, many of them never seen before and including superlative examples of Qing murals, paintings, wall coverings, furniture, architectural elements, and jades. By illuminating this little-known yet architecturally significant area of the Forbidden City, this volume represents a major contribution to the fields of Chinese art, history, architecture, and gardens.