Empress Cixi Parlor: 13 Pieces Set in Red Laquer

Inventory Number: 120660.13.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13



The precious 13 piece parlor of the Empress Cixi (1835-1908) is composed of a small round table, four stools, two large vases, and two single-door screens, all designed out of wood and coated with numerous layers of red lacquer decorated with intricate carvings. The back of the screens is lacquered in red and painted with landscape scenes. The pedestals of the two vases are in black lacquer, painted with floral motifs. Since there are no inscriptions or other certain indications of the year these artifacts were created, the dating criteria are based on stylistic and iconographic elements that suggest they were produced during the Qianlong era (1735-1796). Pieces created during those years are distinguishable by their tiny, carved decorations. These beautiful embellishments depict mythological scenes, landscape scenes, religious scenes, battle scenes, and family scenes. One hypothesis places the parlor in the period when Emperor Qianlong organized the restructuring of the Palazzo d’Estate in Beijing. Following this assumption, it is possible that this furniture was created to adorn the newly refurbished palace. Currently the Ethnological Museum is under renovation, but it is expected that these pieces will return on display in the near future.