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Current exhibition

Permanent Exhibition
Our Beloved Treasures: Masterpieces in the National Palace Museum Collection
Majestic Realms: Artistic Interpretations of Palatial Splendor
    Each of the architectural structures within which we live has been crafted from human labor, materials, and technology. But beyond mere practical use, buildings often feature inventive designs and craftsmanship that bestow symbolic meaning and convey messages. For instance, royal palaces were historically considered indicators of a nation’s strength, which is why palaces are seen as the best examples of architectural aesthetics and ideal spaces for their time, and why they often appear in paintings or as designs in crafts. Such works also reflect public fascination with royal palaces, a longing for historically famous palaces, or the imagining of celestial realms.
    This exhibition presents a collection of paintings, calligraphy, and objects centered on palace architecture. Visitors can explore how different artists depict the details of buildings and create a sense of space, and can also see how these artists tailor their work to different materials. Witness the fascinating transformation of three-dimensional architectural spaces into two-dimensional artworks and see how craftsmen reinterpret the designs to make three-dimensional decorative objects. Step into the world of ancient palace architecture and appreciate the artistic tribute to human achievement.
Exhibition Information
  • Event Date Permanent Exhibition
  • Location 3F S302
Yuan dynasty
The Han Palace by Li Rongjin
Seamless Integration of Architecture and Nature
  The Han Palace is a stunning depiction by 14th-century Yuan dynasty artist Li Rongjin of a grand palace nestling amidst mountains. Employing the technique of jiehua (ruled-line painting), the painting features pavilions and terraces with precise and intricate lines that highlight the palace’s elaborate design. The striking “Li-Guo style” rocks, with their glistening, twisting brushstrokes, evoke the dynamic beauty of clouds and mountains. Li Rongjin’s skillful blending of architectural elements with the natural landscape dissolves the boundaries between different brushwork styles, making this work a masterpiece of seamless integration.
Ming dynasty
Lianchang Palace, attributed to Qiu Ying、Changxin Palace, attributed to Qiu Ying
A Colorful Tapestry of Palatial Grandeur
  Changxin Palace, a significant Han dynasty landmark in Xi'an, and Lianchang Palace, a grand Tang dynasty imperial residence in Henan, stand as historically celebrated royal edifices. The presence of Qiu Ying’s seals on these two paintings, coupled with Wen Zhengming’s calligraphy in the shitang (poetry sections), indicates their origin from the same forgery workshop during the transition from the late Ming to the early Qing dynasty.
  The paintings vividly alternate the colors and patterns of roof tiles, window lattices, grilles, and railings, creating a lively, splendid scene. Though not strictly neat and logical, their radiant allure against the backdrop of verdant mountains captures the widespread admiration for Qiu Ying’s style and conveys the era’s imaginative vision of royal and divine palace gardens.
Qing dynasty
Lianchang Palace by Zhang Gao
Palace Architecture as a Canvas for History
  Qing court painters embraced the Western technique of linear perspective, introduced by missionary artists, to give a more precise depiction of spatial distance and proportional change in architectural scenes. This painting by Zhang Gao, a court painter in the early Qianlong period, depicts Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and Imperial Consort Yang admiring the night view of the palace gardens, as recounted in the inscribed Lianchang Palace Poem. The meticulously arranged halls, illuminated by palace lanterns, are intended to represent Tang dynasty architecture, but in reality, they are depicted in the architectural style of the Qing dynasty. The logical and detailed depiction of these structures imparts a sense of realism, convincing the viewer of the authenticity of these architectural marvels.
Qing dynasty, Qianlong reign
Plate with landscape and pavilion in falangcai enamels
Plates as Canvas
  In the Qianlong period, the depiction of palace architecture also extended to enamel-painted porcelain. The two showcased porcelain pieces exemplify this trend, with plates transformed into canvases adorned with vibrant landscapes and ornate pavilions in rich color. Between the mountains and clouds, the white-glazed surface bears the Tang poem verses “Trees touch the southern mountain near, smoke embraces the northern islet far”, flanked by seals reading “Longevity of Antiquity”, “Lofty Mountains”, and “Endless Waters”. The design circles around the plate’s base, creating a harmonious blend of poetry, calligraphy, and painting, all enhancing the architectural theme.
Qing dynasty, Qianlong reign
Jade miniature mountain with pavilions
Sculpting a Scenic Vista
  Crafted from white jade, this piece was skillfully carved by an artisan who ingeniously used the jade’s natural triangular shape and yellow blemishes to form a landscape with pavilions. The result is a three-dimensional scene that seems to bring a painting to life within the stone. On exploring this miniature landscape, pavilions nestled  among lush foliage are revealed on one side, while on the other, a stream gently flows down, creating a picturesque contrast. On the back of the rock face, an imperial poem by the Qianlong Emperor adds a touch of regal elegance. The piece is signed “Inscribed by Qianlong in the Guichou year” and is marked with two seals.
Qing dynasty, Qianlong reign
Rhinoceros horn cup with gathering of immortals
Celestial Pavilions on the Sea
    In Qing court art, pavilion architecture is sometimes depicted with an added element of mythical storytelling. This rhinoceros horn cup features relief and openwork carvings that create a three-dimensional scene of pavilions and divine mountains set in the sea. The exterior of the cup showcases staggered layers of pine trees, with figures and spaces intricately interwoven. Immortals bearing gifts are shown standing before pavilions or atop rocks, and on the uppermost level a small monkey stands in preparation to celebrate the birthday of the Queen Mother of the West. A relief carving of the cloud and dragon pattern on the inner rim symbolizes the zenith of this celestial landscape.
Qing dynasty
Carved red lacquer box with figures
Landscape and Architecture
During the Qing dynasty, architectural depictions that harmoniously integrated landscapes, human activities, cranes, and pine trees were common in works crafted from various materials, conveying auspicious meanings. This large lacquer storage box features a lid with an intricate carved design. The background depicts mountains enveloped in cloud, while the foreground presents two sets of pavilions and figures. The ground is interspersed with wave patterns, brocade patterns, and scroll motifs to divide the spaces. The careful attention to detail, such as the neatly arranged roof tiles and brick walls, underscores the meticulous craftsmanship of the carved red lacquer.
Japan, 18th century
Maki-e box with landscape and pavilion
Japanese Craftsmanship Meets Landscape Themes
The “maki-e” lacquerware technique, which dates back to Japan’s Nara period (710–794), often features pavilions set within natural landscapes. Crafted in the 18th century, this lacquer box has a design fashioned in gold leaf and gold powder. The pattern on the lid extends to the box’s outer walls, showcasing a splendid Japanese-style pavilion next to towering rocks, with mountains and a tall pagoda in the distance. The scene is completed by a river flowing beneath a small bridge and houses in the foreground. Despite some loss of gold leaf, the box’s radiant beauty remains intact.