Author Archives: Pierre Caessa

Step inside the Forbidden City with precious artworks from the Palace Museum on Google Arts & Culture

For nearly 500 years—from 1420 to 1912—the Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors. Among its most illustrious inhabitants was the Qianlong Emperor, a patron of Confucian arts and culture who, during his 50-year reign in the 18th century, amassed the most important collection of artwork in Chinese history.

Qianlong Emperor

The Qianlong Emperor in Ceremonial Armor on Horseback. Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766, Chinese name Lang Shining)

This rich collection was built upon by his successors over time and went on to become the centerpiece of the Palace Museum that opened to people outside the imperial court for the first time in 1925. And starting today, anyone with an internet connection can now glimpse inside and view 100 precious artifacts from the Palace Museum on Google Arts & Culture.

The exhibit captures the breadth of rare and valuable works that are on display in the Forbidden City—from calligraphy to ceramics, silk paintings to stone carvings, and jades and other jewels. The Palace Museum collection on Google Arts & Culture covers over 6,000 years of China’s culture and history, and sheds particular light on the Qianlong Emperor’s reign, the traditions and prosperity of the Qing Empire.

One of the collection’s oldest surviving pieces, the Bu Shang Studying, Running Regular Script was made by calligrapher Ouyang Xun to document the philosophical reasoning of one of Confucius’ most distinguished pupils. Zoom into the artwork to appreciate Ouyang’s brushstrokes. This piece was widely documented throughout history, finally entering the imperial collection during the Qianlong Emperor’s reign, who included it in his personal album of splendid calligraphic works. 

The Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven features a knob carved in the form of a crouching dragon and is said to be one of the Qianlong Emperor’s twenty-five most cherished seals, and was used in his worship of Heaven.

Selected pieces from Palace Museum

From left to right: Bu Shang Studying, Running Regular Script, Ouyang Xun (557-641);  Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven - View 1 and View 2.

Listening to a Zither (detail)
Detail from Listening to a Zither. Zhao Ji (1082-1135)

The Qianlong Emperor developed a practice of leaving an imprint of his imperial seal on many of his favorite pieces of art. Slowly zoom in to Listening to a Zither, a quintessential piece of court figure-paintings of the Song dynasty, and scroll to the left to find two stamps added by the emperor. 

 With Google Arts & Culture, you can explore more of the Qianlong Emperor’s most prized artworks that he placed his seal on, such as the Admonitions Scroll, some of which are now found in collections around the world.

Come and discover these gems from the Palace Museum and much more on Google Arts & Culture today, available on desktopiOS and Android.

Step inside the Forbidden City with precious artworks from the Palace Museum on Google Arts & Culture

For nearly 500 years—from 1420 to 1912—the Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors. Among its most illustrious inhabitants was the Qianlong Emperor, a patron of Confucian arts and culture who, during his 50-year reign in the 18th century, amassed the most important collection of artwork in Chinese history.

Qianlong Emperor

The Qianlong Emperor in Ceremonial Armor on Horseback. Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766, Chinese name Lang Shining)

This rich collection was built upon by his successors over time and went on to become the centerpiece of the Palace Museum that opened to people outside the imperial court for the first time in 1925. And starting today, anyone with an internet connection can now glimpse inside and view 100 precious artifacts from the Palace Museum on Google Arts & Culture.

The exhibit captures the breadth of rare and valuable works that are on display in the Forbidden City—from calligraphy to ceramics, silk paintings to stone carvings, and jades and other jewels. The Palace Museum collection on Google Arts & Culture covers over 6,000 years of China’s culture and history, and sheds particular light on the Qianlong Emperor’s reign, the traditions and prosperity of the Qing Empire.

One of the collection’s oldest surviving pieces, the Bu Shang Studying, Running Regular Script was made by calligrapher Ouyang Xun to document the philosophical reasoning of one of Confucius’ most distinguished pupils. Zoom into the artwork to appreciate Ouyang’s brushstrokes. This piece was widely documented throughout history, finally entering the imperial collection during the Qianlong Emperor’s reign, who included it in his personal album of splendid calligraphic works. 

The Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven features a knob carved in the form of a crouching dragon and is said to be one of the Qianlong Emperor’s twenty-five most cherished seals, and was used in his worship of Heaven.

Selected pieces from Palace Museum

From left to right: Bu Shang Studying, Running Regular Script, Ouyang Xun (557-641);  Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven - View 1 and View 2.

Listening to a Zither (detail)
Detail from Listening to a Zither. Zhao Ji (1082-1135)

The Qianlong Emperor developed a practice of leaving an imprint of his imperial seal on many of his favorite pieces of art. Slowly zoom in to Listening to a Zither, a quintessential piece of court figure-paintings of the Song dynasty, and scroll to the left to find two stamps added by the emperor. 

 With Google Arts & Culture, you can explore more of the Qianlong Emperor’s most prized artworks that he placed his seal on, such as the Admonitions Scroll, some of which are now found in collections around the world.

Come and discover these gems from the Palace Museum and much more on Google Arts & Culture today, available on desktopiOS and Android.

The Ghent Altarpiece: how we digitized one of the most influential artworks of all time

Some 600 years ago, the Van Eyck brothers created one of the first large-scale oil paintings: “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.” Due to its pioneering attention to detail and realistic portrayal of people, the “Ghent Altarpiece” is renowned as one of the most influential paintings ever made and a defining artwork that represents the start of the Northern Renaissance.

ghent altarpiece (inside).gif

As such an important symbol in art history, the altarpiece has long been highly sought after and widely coveted. Since 1432, when it was first installed at Saint Bavo Cathedral in what’s now Belgium, the Altarpiece has survived 13 crimes. Looted, burned and torn apart, it’s been through the hands of multiple armies, including those of Napoleon and the Nazis.

After World War II, the Monuments Men—a group set up by the Allied armies to protect cultural heritage from the Nazis—brought it back to its original home in Ghent, Belgium. One of the panels—“The Just Judges”—is still missing following its theft in 1934. Its absence remains one of the most intriguing riddles in art history.
output_sM4QuS (1).gif

Archives documenting the Altarpiece’s rescue at the end of WWII from the collection of Lukas - Art in Flanders.

Now, the freshly renovated exterior panels of the Altarpiece can be explored in ultra-high resolution on Google Arts & Culture. Thanks to a partnership with the online image library of Flemish art heritage Lukas - Art in Flanders and the Cathedral of Saint-Bavo, we’ve digitized this masterpiece for future generations to explore in unprecedented detail.

Mystic Lamb Altarpiece

Our robotic Art Camera took about 4,000 high-resolution close-ups of the artwork and used those to create the highest ever resolution image ever made of the panels. You can zoom as much as you’d like into more than 8 billion pixels.

20160926_google_078.JPG
Art Camera digitizing one of the 10 exterior panels of the Altarpiece

Discover amazing details, revealed by the panels’ recent renovation: for example, a charming view of medieval Ghent which used to be barely visible. Now you can even make out the lines of the book Mary is reading.

Altarpiece_detail.png

This is one of the latest efforts by Google Arts & Culture to provide institutions with the tools to digitally preserve their collections and make cultural heritage more accessible to everyone.

Explore the adventurous past and rescue of the Altarpiece today—and download Google Art & Culture app on iOS or Android for a daily dose of culture.

The Ghent Altarpiece: how we digitized one of the most influential artworks of all time

Some 600 years ago, the Van Eyck brothers created one of the first large-scale oil paintings: “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.” Due to its pioneering attention to detail and realistic portrayal of people, the “Ghent Altarpiece” is renowned as one of the most influential paintings ever made and a defining artwork that represents the start of the Northern Renaissance.

ghent altarpiece (inside).gif

As such an important symbol in art history, the altarpiece has long been highly sought after and widely coveted. Since 1432, when it was first installed at Saint Bavo Cathedral in what’s now Belgium, the Altarpiece has survived 13 crimes. Looted, burned and torn apart, it’s been through the hands of multiple armies, including those of Napoleon and the Nazis.

After World War II, the Monuments Men—a group set up by the Allied armies to protect cultural heritage from the Nazis—brought it back to its original home in Ghent, Belgium. One of the panels—“The Just Judges”—is still missing following its theft in 1934. Its absence remains one of the most intriguing riddles in art history.
output_sM4QuS (1).gif

Archives documenting the Altarpiece’s rescue at the end of WWII from the collection of Lukas - Art in Flanders.

Now, the freshly renovated exterior panels of the Altarpiece can be explored in ultra-high resolution on Google Arts & Culture. Thanks to a partnership with the online image library of Flemish art heritage Lukas - Art in Flanders and the Cathedral of Saint-Bavo, we’ve digitized this masterpiece for future generations to explore in unprecedented detail.

Mystic Lamb Altarpiece

Our robotic Art Camera took about 4,000 high-resolution close-ups of the artwork and used those to create the highest ever resolution image ever made of the panels. You can zoom as much as you’d like into more than 8 billion pixels.

20160926_google_078.JPG
Art Camera digitizing one of the 10 exterior panels of the Altarpiece

Discover amazing details, revealed by the panels’ recent renovation: for example, a charming view of medieval Ghent which used to be barely visible. Now you can even make out the lines of the book Mary is reading.

Altarpiece_detail.png

This is one of the latest efforts by Google Arts & Culture to provide institutions with the tools to digitally preserve their collections and make cultural heritage more accessible to everyone.

Explore the adventurous past and rescue of the Altarpiece today—and download Google Art & Culture app on iOS or Android for a daily dose of culture.