Rare art from China's 19th century woman ruler come to US

Sunday, 12 November 2017, 04:44:18 AM. A side of Chinese culture and authority never seen outside China comes to the United States with the unveiling of 'Empress Dowager, Cixi: Selections From the Summer Palace.'.
For more than a century she has been known as the woman behind the throne, the empress who through skill and circumstance rose from lowly imperial consort to iron-fisted ruler of China at a time and in a place when women were believed to have no power at all. But it turns out Empress Dowager Cixi was much more than that. The 19th century ruler, who consolidated authority through political maneuvering that at times included incarceration and assassination, was also a serious arts patron and even an artist herself, with discerning tastes that helped set the style for traditional Asian art for more than a century. That side of Cixi comes to the Western world for the first time with Sunday's unveiling of "Empress Dowager, Cixi: Selections From the Summer Palace" at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. The wide-ranging collection, never before seen outside China, will remain at the Southern California museum through March 11 before returning to Beijing. Consisting of more than 100 pieces from the lavish Beijing palace Cixi called home during the final years of her life, "Empress Dowager" includes numerous examples of intricately designed Chinese furniture, porcelain vases and stone carvings, as well as several pieces of Western art, rare in China at the time, that she also collected. Among them are a large oil-on-canvas portrait of herself she commissioned the prominent Dutch artist Hubert Vos to create. Other Western accoutrements include gifts from visiting dignitaries, among them...Read more
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