Sunday, February 15, 2009

(Beijing) Restoration Project

The Studio of Exhausted Diligence, alternately known as the Lodge of Retirement, is due to open sometime this year, and has been the Palace Museum's first real leap into heavy-duty restoration projects. Digging out craftsmen under 40 with the chops to tackle the work has proved to be more trying than originally planned, but with the help of the World Monuments Fund, the finery has returned full force.

Much of the design is credited to Italian Jesuit painter Giuseppe Castiglione, who migrated to China on mission at the age of 27, and came to be affectionately known around the Qianlong gardens as Lang Shining (郎世宁). Rumor has it that some sections of the wisteria-trellised roof were done in the hand of the man himself.

Thus the WMF spouting their symbolic investment in the project, with the vice-president saying in 2002 that "his lodge represents the crystallization of a moment of encounter between East and West.''

While Castiglione's chop-stamped ink-brush paintings offer one permutation of cultural exchange, the warrior of god below, wielding the inscription of Christ on her shield and the sartorial sense of an oriental water nymph, is certainly another. [Castiglione's Höllensturz - RIGHT] (See renderings of Chang'e, moon goddess, for the comparison, eg.)
(Any hints as to the English title and location of this painting? "Hell Fall" has done little good in google searches so far.)

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