Qing dynasty AD1644-1911

Illustration of Victory: Archives of the Grand Council

Qing dynasty AD1644-1911

Illustration of Victory: Archives of the Grand Council

Copperplate print, 56 x 89.5 cm

Among all the types of copperplate print-based war paintings produced during the Qianlong era, "Poem and Illustration on 'Battle Breaking the Defense of Hei-shui' " (also known as "Illustration of Victory: Archives of the Grand Council") was the first. Western painters were involved in the making of the said painting from start to finish (i.e., from drawing to etching), making it a masterpiece rendering the fusion of Chinese and Western culture and art. The "Illustration of Victory: Archives of the Grand Council" illustrates the course of pacifying the rebellions led by Dawats and Amursana (leaders of the Zunghar tribe, Oirats, Mongolia) as well as those led by Bulanidun and Hojijan (i.e., in the Battle of Daxiaohezhuo) in 1755, 1758, and 1759. According to the Huojidang, as the Battle of Xichui soon to be settled in 1760, Qianlong decreed that four of the imperial court Western painters (i.e., Giuseppe Castiglione, Ignatius Sichelbart, Jean Denis Attiret, and Jean-Damascène Sallusti) sketch a draft of the said rebellions on silk. In 1764, he ordered that Giuseppe Castiglione et al. magnify the original paintings and send the official copies to the Guangdong customs office before shipping them to France. Once the paintings arrived France, they drew considerable attention from Louis XVI, who commissioned expert artists from the French Royal Academy to produce the copperplate prints and demanded that they be finely made. The production process began in 1769 and concluded in 1774, spanning a period of six years. The finished product, which consisted of 16 metal copperplates and 200 copperplate prints, were successively shipped back to China by the French East India Company. This selection is a picture of the military camp located in the Koteng Mountains. The image, measuring 89.5 cm long (horizontally) and 56 cm wide (vertically), depicts Ayusi leading his cavalry regiment on a night raid on the Zunghar tribe led by Dawats. The Qing army's surprise attack utterly defeated the Zunghar tribe. The image is stereoscopic and lifelike and the etching detailed and refined.

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