The Yongzheng Emperor was the fifth emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and his name literally meant “harmony and integrity.”
In history, Yongzheng was one of the most hardworking rulers. It is said he wrote over 8,000 words of comments and directions per day on official files, and took only limited vacations each year. The imperial life was stringent and monotonous. So Yongzheng invented a way to have fun and relax.
In his spare time, he asked the court painter to paint his portrait, but in roles other than the emperor. In these costume portraits, Yongzheng was no longer a serious emperor, but an ordinary person living a different life. He could be a hermit, a European, a fisherman…
You will be amazed by the Emperor’s boundless imagination.
Viewers can feel the Emperor’s longing for a free life in the paintings. These paintings were collected and are now kept in the National Palace Museum. Staff there have used digital technology to revive the Emperor’s multiple lives in the paintings.