November 2018

The Forbidden City

Welcome to The Arts Society East Surrey Area
Friday, November 9, 2018 -
10:00 to 13:00
The Yehudi Menuhin Hall
Stoke d’Abernon, Cobham Road Cobham KT11 3QQ

The Secrets of China’s Imperial Palace and Museum


The Forbidden City is a vast complex of buildings with yellow-tiled roofs and vermilion walls enclosed by a moat, situated at the heart of modern Beijing. It is known in Chinese as Gu Gong or Ancient Palace and was built in the early 15th century. The palace was inhabited by two dynasties of powerful rulers of China, the Ming and Qing dragon- emperors who lived in walled seclusion with their empresses, concubines and palace eunuchs. After the abdication of the last emperor in 1911, it was transformed into today's Palace Museum, visited by millions of tourists each year. The multiple pavilions house extensive collections of works of art, collected by generations of Chinese Emperors.

Lecture 1 focuses on the construction, early history and ceremonies of the Forbidden City and the symbolism of the venerated architecture. The symmetrical arrangement of the palace with its central north-south axis was a metaphor for the Chinese belief that their country was the Middle Kingdom, positioned at the centre of the earth. The Emperors had a cosmic role as semi-divine Sons of Heaven and their lives were bound by ritual and secrecy.

Lecture 2 will look at the exquisite art collections of the palace from paintings to jade and porcelain and will focus on some of the discerning imperial art connoisseurs. The lecture continues to the impact of 19th century Opium Wars and end of Empire through to the founding of the modern museum


Ms Anne Haworth

Lecturer at the V&A. Guide for private tours of the State Rooms and The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace. Lecturer in British Painting for American students resident in London. In Autumn 2002, catalogued collection of Chinese porcelain at Kensington Palace. From 2002 2005, a committee member of the French Porcelain Society. From 1995 2002, was resident in Shanghai, China, visited ancient kiln sites and lectured to expatriate groups. From 1981 to 1995, trained and became a senior ceramics specialist at Christie's and Bonhams head offices.