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The Emperor Sailing, from The Story of the Emperor of China

Large tapestry depicts Chinese emperor heading to sea in opulent ceremony.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Large tapestry depicts Chinese emperor heading to sea in opulent ceremony.




After a design by Guy-Louis Vernansal (French, 1648–1729) and others
Woven at the Manufacture Royale de Beauvais under the direction of Pierre and Etienne Filleul (codirectors, 1711–22)
France, Beauvais

About this artwork

This tapestry is part of a suite that portrays scenes from the lives of the Chinese emperor Shunzhi (r. 1644–61) and his son, the emperor Kangxi (r. 1661–1722). The Emperor Sailing shows the elder emperor seated in a ceremonial dragon boat as it pulls away from a quay. Members of the imperial family and their attendants watch the launch from underneath an arcade, in close proximity to a crane and a tortoise that together symbolize their well-wishes for the monarch. Philippe Behagle, then director of the Beauvais tapestry workshop, commissioned the design of this tapestry suite in the mid-1680s to cater to the French court’s increasing fascinating with China. As an allegory of good governance, the series makes manifest the parallels, first propounded by French Jesuit missionaries in China, between Louis XIV and Kangxi.


Currently Off View




Guy-Louis Vernansal (Designer)


The Emperor Sailing, from The Story of the Emperor of China


Beauvais (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1716–1722


Wool, silk, and silvered- and-gilt-metal-strip-wrapped silk, slit and double interlocking tapestry weave with some areas of 2:2 plain interlacings of silvered-and-gilt-metal wefts


385.8 × 355 cm (151 3/4 × 139 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Worcester Fund

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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