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A Plan of the Emperor's Glassworks - article ; n°1 ; vol.56, pg 81-90

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Arts asiatiques - Année 2001 - Volume 56 - Numéro 1 - Pages 81-90
From the outset of the French mission to China, scientific and cultural pursuits were envisioned and playing a large role. In 1696, a glass workshop was established as a division of the imperial ateliers. It was built on a piece of land next to the French Jesuits' church, which was situated within the walls of the Imperial City, and placed under their care. The glass workshop continued to develop and production at it reached its zenith during the Qianlong period (r. 1735-1796). However, when missionary glass artisans, such as Pierre d'Incarville, and Léonard de Brossard, were no longer associated with the workshop, the quality of its wares began to decline. At the turn of the century, the mission in China sank almost to extinction, and by 1827, all activity at the glassworks had ceased. In 1998, the existence of a Chinese plan for this glass workshop was revealed in an inventory of documents from the Lazarist mission to Beijing. Therefore, the topic of this paper is a study of this plan and the glassmaking activities associated with it.
Dès les débuts de la Mission française en Chine, les activités scientifiques et culturelles ont joué un rôle important. En 1696, une verrerie fut créée à Pékin, comme département des ateliers impériaux. Edifiée sur un terrain jouxtant l'église des Jésuites français, à l'intérieur de l'enceinte de la Cité impériale, elle fut placée sous leur responsabilité. La verrerie se développa et la production atteignit son apogée sous le règne de Qianlong (r. 1735-1796). Cependant lorsque les missionnaires artisans du verre, tels Pierre d'Incarville et Léonard de Brossard, ne participèrent plus à la fabrication, la qualité des pièces se mit à décliner. Au tournant du siècle, la Mission en Chine périclita presque complètement, et en 1827, toute activité avait cessé à la verrerie. En 1998, l'inventaire de documents ayant appartenu à la Mission des Lazaristes de Pékin révéla l'existence d'un plan chinois de cette verrerie. L'article étudie ce plan et les activités de fabrication de la verrerie.
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Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.

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Emily Byrne Curtis
A Plan of the Emperor's Glassworks
In: Arts asiatiques. Tome 56, 2001. pp. 81-90.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Byrne Curtis Emily. A Plan of the Emperor's Glassworks. In: Arts asiatiques. Tome 56, 2001. pp. 81-90.
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/arasi_0004-3958_2001_num_56_1_1465Abstract
From the outset of the French mission to China, scientific and cultural pursuits were envisioned and
playing a large role. In 1696, a glass workshop was established as a division of the imperial ateliers. It
was built on a piece of land next to the French Jesuits' church, which was situated within the walls of the
Imperial City, and placed under their care. The glass workshop continued to develop and production at it
reached its zenith during the Qianlong period (r. 1735-1796). However, when missionary glass artisans,
such as Pierre d'Incarville, and Léonard de Brossard, were no longer associated with the workshop, the
quality of its wares began to decline. At the turn of the century, the mission in China sank almost to
extinction, and by 1827, all activity at the glassworks had ceased. In 1998, the existence of a Chinese
plan for this glass workshop was revealed in an inventory of documents from the Lazarist mission to
Beijing. Therefore, the topic of this paper is a study of this plan and the glassmaking activities
associated with it.
Résumé
Dès les débuts de la Mission française en Chine, les activités scientifiques et culturelles ont joué un rôle
important. En 1696, une verrerie fut créée à Pékin, comme département des ateliers impériaux. Edifiée
sur un terrain jouxtant l'église des Jésuites français, à l'intérieur de l'enceinte de la Cité impériale, elle
fut placée sous leur responsabilité. La verrerie se développa et la production atteignit son apogée sous
le règne de Qianlong (r. 1735-1796). Cependant lorsque les missionnaires artisans du verre, tels Pierre
d'Incarville et Léonard de Brossard, ne participèrent plus à la fabrication, la qualité des pièces se mit à
décliner. Au tournant du siècle, la Mission en Chine périclita presque complètement, et en 1827, toute
activité avait cessé à la verrerie. En 1998, l'inventaire de documents ayant appartenu à la Mission des
Lazaristes de Pékin révéla l'existence d'un plan chinois de cette verrerie. L'article étudie ce plan et les
activités de fabrication de la verrerie.EMILY BYRNE CURTIS
The French Jesuits reached Ningbo on 23 July 1687.6 In It is not possible to overstate the remarkable contributions
made by French Jesuit missionaries to China in the seven February of 1688, they entered Beijing7 and presented thems
teenth and eighteenth centuries. Their activities as interpret elves to the Portuguese mission, which had been established
ers, astronomers and cartographers have been the subject of there for many years. It cannot be said that the Portuguese
many papers, but their involvement with Qing dynasty (1644- Jesuits were delighted to see their French confreres. Although
1911) glassmaking has received less attention than it deserves. both were members of the same society, 8 they were dependent
In 1998, the existence of a Chinese plan for the glass workshop on the largess of two rival kings, each of whom desired com
which had belonged to the French Jesuits was revealed in an mercial advantages. Nonetheless, for the next five years, the
two nationalities had to live together in the same house. This inventory made by Pauline Guilbaud of documents from the
Lazarist mission in Beijing1. Suffice to say, that the significance was the Nantang, the South Church more properly known as
of this plan was not realized until it was brought to this the Collegium Pekinense of the vice-province of China, head
author's attention by archivist Father Paul Henzmann, CM. quarters of the Jesuit missions in China.
Therefore, the topic of this paper will be confined to a study of Undeterred, by 30 September 1688, the French Jesuits
this plan and the glassmaking activities associated with it. This were able to report that the emperor has accepted some of
exposition, in its scope, is based for the most part on archival their books and prints, and that those bound in beautiful red
documents from Rome, and the above mentioned plan from leather with gilt seemed to have pleased him most. Kangxi also
the Centre des Archives Diplomatiques de Nantes. Given their kept a small watch, an English telescope, "deux petits portraits
en mignature" verre".9 extensive and informative content, many of these documents [enamel?], and "divers ouvrages de
are self-explanatory. Louis XIV had attained his goal; his missionaries would look
out for French interests and establish a Versailles-Beijing axis.
Eager to please the emperor and anxious to have optical
glass for their surveying instruments, the French Jesuits Background
requested articles of glass and crystal10 from Europe, and
From the outset of the French mission to China, scientific began to search for a missionary glassmaker who would fur
and cultural pursuits were envisioned as playing a large role. ther be able to satisfy the imperial taste for enamel ware. In a
The Kangxi emperor (r. 1666-1722) had requested that skilled letter dated 30 November 1691, Gerbillon asked for an artisan
French missionaries be sent to China, 2 and with the approval "qui sache le secret de bien émailler et faire du verre".11
Father Gerbillon was one of the missionaries responsible of his ministers, King Louis XIV made a conscious effort to
have Jesuits selected whose scholarly attainments would for curing Kangxi from malaria. As nothing the Chinese doc
reflect this emphasis. Of the six recruited, Jean de Fontaney, a tors prescribed could cure the Emperor's fever, the fathers
professor of mathematics and physics, was perhaps the most suggested quinine, and in a few days the fever left him. For this
qualified. He was appointed to head the mission. The Fathers service, Kangxi gave the French Jesuits a house inside the yel
Tachard (who would remain in Siam), Bouvet, Gerbillon, Vis- low wall {inter murum croceum) 12 of the Huang cheng [Imper
ial City].13 Fontaney filled his letters with descriptions of this delou, and Le Comte, 3 were admitted as mathématiciens du
Roy at the Académie Royale des Sciences.4 They sailed from event, for it was a great honor. They were given plans for all of
the port of Brest, aboard the Oyseau, on 3 March 1685. the houses in the Imperial City, and the French chose the larg
During the voyage east, the missionaries divided their est and most commodious one. It was the former residence of
scholarly pursuits. Each man was to specialize, in order to pre a governor who had been sent into exile. They took possession
sent an organized and concentrated effort. The make up of this of it on 12 July 1693. The following year, Kangxi granted the
division may be inferred from a mémoire they submitted to French Jesuits another piece of land, to the side of their house,
Minister Louvois.5 Fontaney petitioned for various instruments on which to build their church.14 With a generous endowment
and books on astronomy; Bouvet, natural history works; Gerb of money and materials from the Emperor, they started to
illon, books on France and Europe, barometers, thermomet build a European-style church. In 1695, Kangxi summoned to
ers, and small gifts for the Mandarins who would present Beijing a German Jesuit named Kilian Stumpf, and placed him
them at court. Visdelou asked for dictionaries, and Le Comte, in the French house.15 Stumpf had come to China with many
for books on art, architecture, and glassmaking {"la verrerie"). scientific skills among which was glassmaking.16 Aware of this,
\Ms \m ,l,( 81 p- the emperor instructed him to build a glass workshop in the -F i
H. \ et /•>/..■• Tour hiHinth, jj,,r ju, French Jesuit complex known as the Beitang. This glassworks
was unique in that it was the only such workshop founded by I* If. .Nj.m/,, G <: <: (. <:. Gniw j, the Jesuits; in all other cases they joined existing establish fer envoyée rjr lorn, \\. ments. I). Avenue JjlUe j, marbre. ® r. ï: Sjlles de rut f.
lion et Je con/t- ! r »" rentes. The Emperor's Glassworks r. Chambres. ( Ces chambre* < r.t
tv s-rviie noviciat s< »«
let Lajjnstes.j According to the Daqing huidian shili [Collected Sub- C C Grand sahn. C statutes of the Qing], in 1696 a glass workshop was established G G Chambres. C C II. Cadran soljirt as a division of the imperial workshops.17 In his letter dated I 1*. Chambres, i. Porte d honneur 17 October 1696, Fontaney wrote not only that "la verrerie se K. Entrée. fait en notre maison",18 but that he has already mentioned this K K". Chambres I. L' ie< in his letter written earlier in the month. This indicates that Lettres. M. l'orte d'ntrtt iê the glassworks had already been erected and that it was func la maison. N N*. Défendantes. tioning. A subsequent letter is more detailed: "L'Empereur fait O. Portier. une belle verrerie à coté de notre maison dans un grand ter r * P. Porte d'entrée deit résidence. rain qu'il nous donne et nous en laisse le soin".19 Further on,
i tégtae. Father Kilian Stumpf is described as the reason for this; Fon
NOTA . A*t*l** trouvait m jarMn ; i louett U verrene imférlaU ; Util Une Ht* T»*«o-«he-li«ou. taney requests a glassworker to make glass and crystal, and
emphasizes that this is being done not for commercial reasons, Fig. 1
but to please the emperor.20 A diagram of the Beitang, the French Jesuit complex in Beijing
during Kangxi (1662-1722), with a notation that the glassworks is Additional documentation to the establishment of the glass located to the left of the church (after: Favier, 1897, p. 188). workshop is to be found in Stumpf s letter of 15 October 1700. Fig. 1
In it he relates that in March of that year Gerbillon had sub Plan du Beitang, complexe occupé par les Jésuites français à Pékin
sous le règne de Kangxi (1662-1722); une nota indique que la verrerie mitted a petition to Kangxi concerning the construction of a
(non représentée) est située à gauche de l'église (d'après Favier, 1897, new church which would be near the glassworks he had built p. 188). three years ago.21 A word may be in order here to clarify the
sequence of events. When the French Jesuits obtained their
Chinese-style house in 1693, they converted part of it into a
small chapel. They did not start the actual construction of their one half braccia wide, 25 of which the place where he slept, sat
church on the adjacent piece of land, until well after the erec and prayed occupied the greater part.
tion of the glassworks. Their residence was to the right of the The Franciscan bishop of Beijing, Bernardino della Chiesa,
church, and the glassworks was located to the left, as shown reported the whole sorry episode to the Cardinal de Propa
on a diagram (fig. 1) the missionaries made of the Beitang.22 ganda Fide, 26 and in October 1709, Pope Clement XI was i
nformed that Appiani was still incarcerated in the glassworks.27
From these, and other accounts of his emprisonment, we have
gleaned some detail as to the activity in the glasshouse. As a Incarcerated in the Glassworks footnote to Appiani's misfortunes, he was subsequently moved
to Guangdong, where he remained imprisoned, being released We will pause in our chronicle of the Beitang's glass work only on 21 August 1726.28 shop to consider a rather bizarre incident. Lazarist, Lodovico
Antonio Appiani, had the misfortune to be chosen as interpre
ter for the Papal mission to Beijing in 1705. It was a failure,
and Appiani shared the disgrace of the Papal legate, Maillard Plan of the Glassworks
de Tournon, to whom he was related. Tournon accused the
Jesuits, particularly the French ones, for causing this failure. Recorded in the traditional manner, the Chinese plan
During the journey from Peking to Guangzhou after the col (fig. 2) of the glass workshop bears an inscription (fig. 3) on the
lapse of the negotiations, Appiani was seized, 23 dragged back lower portion, which reads:
to the capital, and imprisoned in December 1707 for two and "Complete plan of the Glass Workshop
one-half years in the glassworks. Twelve rooms ijiari)
Appiani was placed initially in a room full of young arti Five surrounding buildings
sans, who were carving floral patterns on the glasswares.24 He Each inch on the plan equals: one foot {chi) on the ground
remained there for about a month, while a wall was raised in On the northern boundary, Official Street (Guanjie), alt
order to enclose him in a smaller area. On 27th January 1708, ogether from east to west 10 zhang, 8 chi
Appiani was moved to a room two braccia long, and one and On the southern boundary, the Roman Catholic church
82 CX \r & S ?oo-t
Fig. 2
Entire plan (56 x 100 cm) of the Beitang's glass workshop,
possibly after 1783. Longest length: 90.1 m; widest width: 44.5 m
(Archives des Lazaristes de Pékin, Centre des Archives Diplomatiques
de Nantes, carton 10).
Fig. 2
Plan complet (56 x 100 cm) de la verrerie du Beitang, probablement
après 1783. Plus grande longueur: 90,1 m; plus grande largeur: 44,5m
(Archives des Lazaristes de Pékin, Centre des Archives Diplomatiques
de Nantes, carton 10).
(Tïanzhutang), from west to east 12 zhang, 5 chi
On the eastern boundary, the Roman Catholic church
{Tianzhutang), from south to north 11 zhang, 6 chi
On the western boundary, neighboring resident families,
from north to south 26 zhang." 29
The measurements recorded on the plan for the glass
works' boundaries are in accordance with those mentioned
previously by Fontaney. Furthermore, the length of the church,
75 feet (pieds) and its courtyard, 50 feet, 30 correspond closely
to the Chinese measurements along the notched, outer bound
ary on the lower left hand corner of the plan.
By 1715 Matteo Ripa observed that the workshop had
expanded to include many furnaces for glassmaking, all that
was needed for a great number of craftsmen and a strong
workshop, and that this required Stumpf's constant attent
ion.31 Joao Mourao, S. J., too, mentions the construction
(masonry) of ovens and small kilns to make glass and
enamels.32 1 X. K A- <. —
An indication as to their over-all appearance may be gain
ed from the illustrations in Johann Kiinckel's Ars vitraria
experimantalis (fig. 4), published in 1679. The most notable
feature is then1 open pavilion-like construction, with the sides
open for ventilation - an important consideration for the fur
naces.
fll*
n k.
Fig. 3
Plan of Beitang's glassworks,
detail: the inscription
(Archives des Lazaristes de Pékin,
Centre des Archives Diplomatiques
de Nantes, carton 10).
Fis- 3
Plan de la verrerie de Beitang,
détail: l'inscription explicative
(Archives des Lazaristes de Pékin,
Centre des Archives Diplomatiques
de Nantes, carton 10).
\rts \m nique» ion» >f> 2001 83 Fig. 4 Fig. 5
Furnaces for the production of additional raw material for glassmaking A glass workshop with ovens, glassblowers and workers
(after: Kunckle, 1679, p. 348). (after: Kunckle, 1679, p. 334).
Fig. 4 Fig. 5
Fourneaux pour la production de matériaux bruts nécessaires Un atelier de verriers avec des fours, des souffleurs de verre
à la fabrication du verre (d'après Kùnckle, 1679, p. 348). et des ouvriers (d'après Kunckle, 1679, p. 334).
There are several crucial steps in the production of glass Glass Artisans
objects. They begin with the mixing and melting of the batch.
After the batch has melted, the molten glass is refined at a high In 1699, the French Jesuits arranged for two glassworkers,
temperature for a time, which removes bubbles. Then the identified only as Vilette and d'Andigné, to be sent to Beijing.
glass is worked and formed. After this, the glass must be At least one of them (probably d'Andigné), was presented to
cooled slowly, or annealed, usually in a long oven called a lehr. the Kangxi emperor, and accepted for employment at the
Once a vessel had been annealed, it could be finished by rotary imperial workshop.34 While it would be interesting to know
polishing, i.e. using wheels and fine abrasives. exactly what these two glass craftsmen did during their stay in
A piece of enameled glass could have been produced en the capital, no additional information has yet surfaced con
tirely at the Beitang's glass workshop. To state the obvious, the cerning them. More importantly, the workshop was staffed
glass body would have been made there first, afterwards its with talented Chinese artisans. These "disciples" of Stumpfs
decoration painted on with enamels in their powder state, pos art" 35 would have included some of the craft"glassmaking
sibly with ones made at the glassworks, and/or enamels im smen summoned from Yanshen and Guangzhou.36
ported from Europe. Then, in order to set the enamels, the They would have been instructed in the more complex and
piece would be refired, often several times, in a furnace for difficult techniques of blowing glass, mastery of which was
painted glasswares.33 indispensable to the creation of large vessels and other more
intricate work (fig. 5). With regard to the use of this technique,
84 \->i ~>()-lW\ Johann Unverzagt, a member of the Russian delegation lain, tea, ginseng, glass, and pearls. For the glasswares we Georg
in 1721, observed that after visiting the French Jesuit fathers, find:
they arrived at the missionaries' glass workshop, which was "Deux plats de verre rouge.
renowned for the blowing of pretty glass.37 Huit petites tasses de verre à fleurs de couleur céleste
après qu'il a plu.46 It may be remarked that although glassblowing was known
in China as long ago as the Northern Wei period (AD 386-534), Un coffre.
its use had been confined mostly to making small utensils and Dix petits plats de couleur céleste.
items of personal adornment. In a recent essay, Yang Boda Dix plats médiocres de couleur rouge céleste, on y joint
explained that under the patronage of the Kangxi emperor, the cinc tasses, blanches en dedans et dorées en dehors.
advanced Western technology introduced by the missionaries Deux pots de couleur céleste après la pluie, ornés de fleurs
had "impelled glass in the direction of an age of art", which et chargés de figures à la chinoise, dragons.
represented "a major step forward for Chinese glass, and Deux plats de couleur céleste après la pluie.
signals that glass had broken away from its traditional aim of Deux plats de verre blanc ornés de fleurs.
Deux tasses de verre blanc à couvercle ornées de fleurs." replicating the luster and opacity of jade as a substance, seek
ing to dazzle in some other unique way." 3S
In 1693, Kangxi began a gradual reorganization and en-
largement of the workshops belonging to the Imperial House
hold Department {Zaobanchu). Subsequent additions included Kangxi glasswares
a glassworks (1696) and a special workshop for the production
Regrettably, examples of glass from this period are exceedi of painted enamel wares. The physical location of these ate
ngly rare and, to date, none of the objects mentioned in liers has been a troublesome question. Palace records indicate
that this was variable, 47 and presently, give no indication as to Kangxi period documents can be identified. To cite some
examples, the Suzhou fuzhi records that on the emperor's either when the enamel workshop was founded, nor to where
southern tour in 1705, he awarded the Provincial Governor of it was located. That, during the Kangxi period, a glass work
Suzhou with glass objects produced by his artisans. The group shop was situated within the confines of the Forbidden City
included a transparent glass fish-bowl, a sparkle blue glass itself, also awaits confirmation.48 Given the prominence of the
vase, a small yellow glass dish, and a blue glass brush holder glass workshop at the Beitang, and the corpus of references to
with floral design, and totaled seventeen pieces.39 it, it is reasonable to propose that some, if not all, of the vessels
Of particular interest is an entry dated to 24 or 25 February in the above mentioned documents were produced there. And,
1706: Andrea Candela, a member of the ill-fated papal lega that this documentation attests to the vast array of pieces pro
tion, 40 recorded in his diary that they had been invited to duced at this time.
attend a great fireworks display, during which Kangxi sent to
de Tournon, "an enameled glass snuff bottle of his Majesty's
own use." 41 As corroboration of this incident, the description Yongzheng wares
tallies with the inventory of de Tournon's personal effects,
made in 1712.42 Candela's reference is significant in that it During the Yongzheng period (r. 1723-1735), the imperial
antedates by ten years the previously accepted date for Kangxi workshop was forced to rely on native talent, alone. Jean-Bap-
enameled glass wares i.e., the four pieces recorded in the tiste Jacques, S.J., wrote that he was informed that one could
no longer obtain from those in charge of the Emperor's glasGongzhongdang Kangxi chao zouzhe for 1716: a red glass
sworks "des bouteilles de verre mince".49 Ignatius Kôgler's letsnuff bottle with polychrome decoration, an octagonal ink stone
box, a desk top water pot, and a round incense container.43 ter of 9 November 1726 is an account of what the missionaries
Another tantalizing indication as to their color, form and were doing and what was needed at court. This included, a
decoration, can be obtained from a list compiled by Jean-Franç well trained glass artisan, who knew to produce all kinds of
colors in making glass.50 The glassware made at this time was ois Foucquet, S. J. Having obtained passage aboard the Prince
de Conti, Foucquet left Guangzhou on 5th January 1722. On less refined and contained a few air-bubbles, and pitting, both
9th May the vessel reached Brazil, specifically the Bay of All inevitable defects in glassmaking at the time. Despite these
Saints, where it anchored for several weeks. The governor of setbacks, production at the imperial glassworks increased,
the Bay of All Saints, D. Vasco Fernandez Cesar de Meneses, and the quality of the objects created there did improve.
asked Foucquet to write a report about his background, and A passage from Wu Changyuan's Chenyuan shilue51 in the
about the ship's voyage from Guangzhou. This was the source section devoted to a description of the imperial City, refers to
of Foucquet's letter to the Portuguese Viceroy, preserved in the the ninth year (1731) of Yongzheng, and notes that glass is
Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana.44 Though undated, Foucquet made in a workshop next to the Roman Catholic Church, on
Canchikou.52 Canchikou was the name of the street along the added a note that he delivered it on 30th May 1722. To this he
east side of the French Jesuits' appended a list of the gifts45 that the Kangxi emperor was complex, which is not only
sending to the King of Portugal. consistent with the markings found on Chinese maps for this
Comprising thirty-nine entries, the catalogue includes lan period, but confirms the accuracy of the previously mentioned
diagram (fig. 1 : "rue Ts'an-che-keou").53 terns, artificial flowers, books, papers, enamel wares,
85 Rouen how to make aventurine56 (fig. 6) and glass that he des
cribed as the color of a yellow broom flower {du jaune fleur de
genêt)?1
From the 20th day, 11th month of Qianlong's seventeenth
year (1752), to the 16th day, 3rd month of the following year,
i.e. about four and a half months, the missionaries succeeded
in firing: three glass floral groups in imitation European style;
nine glass lanterns; eight glass basins; two glass pitchers;
three threaded glass pitchers; one threaded glass cylindrical
brush holder.58
/■h After d'Incarville's death in 1757 and de Brossard's death
in 1758, glassmaking at the imperial workshop began to
decline. In 1760, the twenty-fifth year of his reign, Qianlong .' //■
learned that there were no longer any missionaries at court
who were skilled in the techniques of glassblowing. He is
Illustration non autorisée à la diffusion reported to have been very disappointed.59 The emperor
ordered the imperial glassworks to make a replacement part
for a lantern in 1770. But, the article originally had been
blown in the large furnace by missionaries, and the craftsmen
were unable to duplicate it.60 Nonetheless, when Zhu Yizun's
well-known history of Beijing and its environs, the Rixia Jiu-
wen, was published in 1774, it contained an entry indicating
that glass was being made in a workshop next to the Catholic
church on Canchikou.61
To this can be added the description of the status for the
imperial glassworks written by Jean-Joseph Amiot, S. J., in
1775. Amiot begins by recalling that the first workshop had
been established in Beijing, by a religious person, during the
reign of Kangxi. Now however, the emperor neither assigned
apprentices to the European glassmakers, nor transferred
glassworkers from Guangzou. And while, "il y a encore une
verrerie à Pe-king: on y fait chaque année un bon nombre de
vases & de différentes pièces d'un grand travail, parce que Fig. 6 rien n'est soufflé",62 Amiot concluded that it was simply an Vase, transparent blue glass with spangles imitating aventurine,
adjunct of imperial grandeur. Qing dynasty, 18th century (see note 56). II: 19 cm
(Collection Alan E. Feen). This somewhat gloomy assessment is correct in that it
Fig. 6 points out the diminishing importance attached to the imperial Vase, verre bleu transparent avec des paillettes imitant raventurine, glass workshop. It also reflects Amiot's highly distressed state, dynastie Qing, xvme s. {cf. note 56), II: 19 cm
for the Jesuits had just learned of the suppression of their (Collection Alan E. Feen).
society. Having taken this action (1773), the Papacy had to find
some other missionary body capable of, and willing to under
take their work all over the world, not least in China. Ten years Qianlong production
passed before the Holy See managed to persuade the Lazarists
to undertake this difficult task.63 Glassmaking thrived during the Qianlong (r. 1736-1795)
era, and is said to have reached its zenith from the fifth year to
the twenty-fourth year (1740-1759) of his reign. Documents
preserved in the First National Historical Archive of China Transition to the Lazarists
show that in the fifth year of Qianlong (1740), two Jesuit mis
The Congrégation de la Mission, i.e. the Lazarists, arrived sionaries were formally employed by the Qing court to take
part in imperial glassmaking. They were Gabriel-Léonard de in Beijing in 1783, to salvage what they could of the church
founded by their great predecessors. Louis XVI had set forth Brossard, and Pierre dTncarville, whose Chinese names were
the conditions under which they would live in China. The preJi Wen and Tang Zhizhong.54 In January of the seventh year
(1742) of Qianlong's reign, they accompanied the emperor on lates were to have all the rights, privileges, faculties and titles
enjoyed by the members of the former Society of Jesus, and an inspection to provide him with proposals for improving
were to occupy "la maison, l'église et toutes les dépendances" glassmaking.53 An indication as to the efforts expanded to do
of the French mission, in the palace compound of the Emperor so may be seen in a series of letters d'Incarville sent to his sis
in Beijing.64 ter. He asked her if she could find out from the glassworks in
86 \rts \si The former Jesuits did not necessarily leave the capital but Lord Elgin, who was in charge of the expedition, marched on
carried on as secular priests, and lived together with the newly the capital, and on 24 October 1860, dictated the Convention of
arrived Lazarists in the Beitang. Since they still worked in the Beijing. The Chinese government had to pay an indemnity of
palace workshops as court artisans and scientists, the Lazar 8 million taels each for Britain and France and, to accept the
ists, as their successors, were expected to perform the same presence of missionaries in China. In addition, "...religious
functions. However, the Lazarists did not recruit any glass arti and charitable institutions which have been confiscated from
sans, and when Hugh Gillan, physician attached to the Macart the Christians... shall be restored to their owners... together
ney Embassy to China of 1793-94, visited the Beitang he re with the cemeteries and other buildings which depend upon
ported: "There was formerly a glass manufactory established them".68 The last article seemed to imply that all the property
at Peking under the direction of the missionaries, but it is now confiscated from the missionaries had to be restored. This of
neglected...".65 course was not the intention of the framers of this article.
At the turn of the century, owing to the troubles in Europe, D. F. Rennie, M. D., was in Beijing during this time. On
the Chinese mission sank almost to extinction. In 1827, the 5 October 1861, he visited the Beitang and related: "Adjoining
Daoguang emperor (r. 1821-1850), expelled the European mis the Mission, Abbe Smoringburgh showed us a building and
sionaries and declared their establishments confiscated to the grounds where in former years the Jesuits manufactured
state. For a property which, with its existing buildings was glass, and which formed a portion of their property. Since the
estimated to have a value of 80,000 taels, 66 the emperor ac re-settlement of the Mission at Peking, the priests applied to
corded an indemnity of 8,000 taels.67 As to the church, it was have it restored, but the reply they got from the Government
demolished, by order of the emperor. Thus ended the days of was to the effect that it had been given to their predecessors to
the Beitang, after 135 years of existence, 93 under the French manufacture glass for the Emperor; and that if they would
Jesuits and 42 under the Lazarists. undertake to do the same, they might have it back, but not
otherwise".69 The Lazarists took refuge beyond the Great Wall and ult
imately, the whole fabric of Chinese society began to crumble in F. Guillon, S. J., visited Beijing in May 1863, and left several
interesting details on the state of the French Jesuits' complex. face of an internal rebellion and the pitiful state of Chinese
defences against sophisticated modern weaponry. A series of He observed that towards the end of the park, outside the re
stored area, was a house which was called "la verrerie" in wars over the trade in opium, culminated in 1860, with the
destruction of the Yuanmingyuan by Anglo-French forces. reference to its former use as a place where glass had been
smelted and fashioned into vessels.70 In 1864, the Lazarists
received two gifts, the sum of 500,000 francs from Napoleon
III, to help with the erection of a new cathedral, and the deed
for the "terrain de la Verrerie" from the Chinese government.71
Cixi (1835-1908), the empress dowager, loved building and
lavished her country's funds on a series of pavilions along the
three lakes west of the Forbidden City. When in 1885 she
moved into the palaces on the Central Lake which had been
specially restored and enlarged for her (fig. 7 D, H), she objec
ted to the proximity of the cathedral (fig. 7E). It seems that she
feared having her movements spied on by the "foreign devils"
from the top of the cathedral's towers, which rose high above
her walls, even though the latter had been specially raised.
Cixi arranged for the cathedral to be relocated to a larger site
north (fig. 7F), and well beyond the area of her apartments.
Fig. 7 The make-up of the Beitang's grounds seems to have been left
Diagram showing fairly intact, and presumably its unoccupied state and proxithe positions mity to the palace, spared the complex from attacks during the of the old (E)
Boxer uprising. A photograph (fig. 8), in Planchet's Guide du and new (F) Beitang
in the northwest touriste aux monuments religieux de Pékin, 72 provides a final
part of Peking glimpse of the area in its original configuration. (after: Favier, 1897, The cathedral was demolished in 1911, to make way for p. 308).
Fig. 7 construction of the prince regent's palace. As it neared comp
Plan montrant letion, a revolution broke out and overthrew the monarchy l'emplacement within three months. It was said that everyone in Beijing made du Beitang ou vieux
an analogy between the demolition of the old Beitang and the Beitang (E) et du
nouveau Beitang (F), fall of the Qing dynasty.73
dans le nord-ouest EMILY BYRNE CURTIS
de Pékin Hoboken. N.J.
(d'après Favier, 1897,
p. 308).
87 '
Fig. 8
"Birds-eye view"
of the original grounds
of the Beitang
[cf. fig. 7 E], Peking,
before 1911
(after: Planchet, 1923,
no page given).
Fig. 8
Vue à vol d'oiseau
du terrain d'origine
du Beitang
[cf. fig. 7 E], Pékin,
avant 1911
(d'après Planchet, 1923,
non paginé).
Abstract Résumé
From the outset of the French mission to China, scientific Dès les débuts de la Mission française en Chine, les activi
and cultural pursuits were envisioned and playing a large role. tés scientifiques et culturelles ont joué un rôle important. En
In 1696, a glass workshop was established as a division of the 1696, une verrerie fut créée à Pékin, comme département des
imperial ateliers. It was built on a piece of land next to the ateliers impériaux. Edifiée sur un terrain jouxtant l'église des
French Jesuits' church, which was situated within the walls of Jésuites français, à l'intérieur de l'enceinte de la Cité impérial
the Imperial City, and placed under their care. The glass work e, elle fut placée sous leur responsabilité. La verrerie se déve
shop continued to develop and production at it reached its loppa et la production atteignit son apogée sous le règne de
zenith during the Qianlong period (r. 1735-1796). However, Qianlong (r. 1735-1796). Cependant lorsque les missionnaires
when missionary glass artisans, such as Pierre d'Incarville, artisans du verre, tels Pierre d'Incarville et Léonard de
and Léonard de Brossard, were no longer associated with the Brossard, ne participèrent plus à la fabrication, la qualité des
workshop, the quality of its wares began to decline. At the turn pièces se mit à décliner. Au tournant du siècle, la Mission en
of the century, the mission in China sank almost to extinction, Chine périclita presque complètement, et en 1827, toute acti
and by 1827, all activity at the glassworks had ceased. In vité avait cessé à la verrerie. En 1998, l'inventaire de docu
1998, the existence of a Chinese plan for this glass workshop ments ayant appartenu à la Mission des Lazaristes de Pékin
was revealed in an inventory of documents from the Lazarist révéla l'existence d'un plan chinois de cette verrerie. L'article
mission to Beijing. Therefore, the topic of this paper is a study étudie ce plan et les activités de fabrication de la verrerie.
of this plan and the glassmaking activities associated with it.
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