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
- 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.)
- Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Worcester Fund