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The Emperor's Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City

February 1–May 1, 2011

The Qianlong Retirement Garden

The Qianlong Garden is one of the most densely built spaces in the Forbidden City: twenty-seven buildings and pavilions, five rockeries (complete with grottoes and tunnels), a series of pathways, and scores of elaborate plantings are fit into a two-acre plot subdivided into four courtyards. The close proximity and intimate scale of the many structures reflect the fact that the garden was designed for use primarily in the winter months, when more spacious halls would have been difficult to heat. In warmer weather the emperor was most often in residence at one of his summer palaces outside Beijing.