In the last decades of the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), Chinese painters in Beijing created portraits of anonymous government officials in court costumes with square insignia for foreign clients. These works appear simpler than the portraits in this gallery, painted for the Emperor by European Jesuit painters or under their guidance and use of Western realism. The Qianlong emperor (r. 1736 – 1795) conferred civil ranks also to foreign officials, who then also wore rank badges on their official robes. Later such insignia were removed from the robes. Without knowing whose robe these pieces once adorned, they were also sold at local markets and thus entered private and museum collections.

This temporary presentation of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is part of the permanent exhibition Ethnological Collections and Asian Art in the Humboldt Forum

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