Empresses of China's Forbidden City, 1644-1912

March 30, 2019 – June 23, 2019

Empress Xiaoxian, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period, 1777, with repainting possibly in 19th century, Ignatius Sichelbarth (Ai Qimeng) [China (born in Bohemia), 1708–1780], Yi Lantai (active about 1748–1786), and possibly Wang Ruxue (active 18th century), hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, Peabody Essex Museum, gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Sturgis Hinds, 1956, E33619. Photo by Walter Silver/PEM.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC


See on Map Floor Plan

The lives of the Qing dynasty empresses offer a compelling tale of opulence and influence as told in this first-ever, in-depth exhibition of the subject. From their royal portraits and costumes they wore to Buddhist art displayed in the Forbidden City, the exhibition breaks stereotypes by showing how actively the empresses exerted influence in the arts, religion, politics, and diplomacy. Most of the artworks are from the Palace Museum, and many have never been exhibited outside of China. The exhibition is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts; the Freer|Sackler; and the Palace Museum in Beijing, China.