Imperial Throne of Emperor Ch'ien Lung
1775-80 (Qing Dynasty)
Red carved lacquer on wood
Museum no. W.399:1-1922
Here is a beautiful expression of the gorgeous, indomitable power of the Chinese emperor. Made by the greatest of China's craftsmen at one of the most productive periods of Chinese art during the European eighteenth century, it is among the largest single pieces of red lacquer in the world. The throne was designed to project a near divine authority and a mondain grandiosity in the travelling palaces the emperor used when hunting outside the Forbidden City. The emperor of China saw himself as supreme ruler of a world where he sat at the centre. This throne is literally the seat and symbol of an awe-inspiring absolute power.
Stephen Bayley, Guest Curator