Abstract

This article explains the destruction of the Yuanmingyuan, the imperial palace compound located northwest of Beijing, by an Anglo-French army in 1860. Bracketing the political and military context, it looks at the ways the emperor’s palace has been interpreted in European cultural history and the ways it was understood by the people responsible for its destruction. To Europeans, the Yuanmingyuan was a place of wonder, and it was more than anything the transformation of the language of wonder that made the palace vulnerable to European aggression. Intercultural aesthetic judgments, the article concludes, always have political implications.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8050
Print ISSN
1045-6007
Pages
pp. 273-298
Launched on MUSE
2011-08-03
Open Access
No
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