One King and Three Emperors. Portugal, China and Macao in the Time of king John V

By Museu de São Roque

APOM PRIZE - Best Temporary Exhibition in Portugal, 2020

This exhibition showcases an intense and challenging period in Luso-Chinese relations, also between Europe and Asia, and in the history of Macao. For the majority of this period, King João V reigned in Portugal (r. 1706-1750), while China was governed by a succession of three emperors from the Qing dynasty: Kangxi (r. 1662-1722), Yongzheng (r. 1723-1735) and Qianlong (r. 1736-1795). 

A Time of Dialogue: King João V and the Qing Emperors (2019) by DifusionMuseu de São Roque

Section 1 - Diplomacy and Rituals: a Time of Embassies and Courtesy

João V (r. 1706-1750) became king when Kangxi was at the height of his power. At that time China had been pacified and subjected to Manchu domination, its frontiers established, its external threats neutralized. When the Portuguese king died, Qianlong, grandson of Kangxi, was about to embark on a political campaign to extend the Qing dynasty's already vast power still further and turn it into one of the largest ever territorial empires.Interests associated with the presence of a Portuguese and Luso-Asian community in Macao, and the work of the Catholic mission in Asia under the Padroado do Oriente, inevitably led to the implementation of diplomatic initiatives, originating in Beijing and Lisbon, by the Qing emperors and Portuguese monarchy.In 1721 Kangxi sent António de Magalhães, a Jesuit missionary, as his emissary to the Portuguese king. Aware of the importance of a good relationship with the Beijing court, and of the prestige that such a tie could earn him in the European courts, King João V returned Kangxi's gesture in 1725 by sending Alexandre Metelo, as his ambassador, to Emperor Yongzheng. 

Portrait of King João V (1719) by Georgio Domenico DupràMuseu de São Roque

GEORGIO DOMENICO DUPRÀ (1689–1770), Portrait of King João V and the Matapan Cape Battle Portugal, 1719, Oil on canvas, Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, inv. 2205 Pint

It was an important victory for the allies and particularly for the international affirmation of the Portuguese crown and King João V.

View of 3 emperors (2019) by DifusionMuseu de São Roque

From left to right:

Kangxi Emperor (1662–1722)
China, early 18th century
Painting on paper
Beijing, Palace Museum, inv. 故G00006396

Yongzheng Emperor (1723–1735)
China, 18th century
Painting on paper
Beijing, Palace Museum, inv. 故G00006431

Qianlong Emperor (1736–1795)
China, early 18th Century
Painting on paper
Beijing, Palace Museum, inv. 故G00006464

Portrait of the Cocubine Ullanara (c. 1750-1760) by Jean-Denis Attiret S.JMuseu de São Roque

JEAN-DENIS ATTIRET S.J. (1702–1768), Portrait of the Manchu concubine Ulanara China, 1750–1760, Painting on paper, Dole, Musée des Beaux-Arts, inv. 2001.5.1

Jean-Denis Attiret was a missionary in China at the court of Emperor Qianlong (1736–1795). He was appointed painter of the Qing Imperial Court with the name Wang Zhicheng. The Portrait of a Concubine is part of Attiret's set of portraits at the request of Emperor Qianlong.

Embroidery with Peacoks (c. 1700)Museu de São Roque

Embroidery with Peacocks China, Macao or Canton/Guangzhou, 17th century Silk, cotton, gold thread Lisbon, RA Collection, inv. 1078

Detail of the two peacocks. One in full flight and the other perched on a rock.

A Mythological creature: a white single-horned xiezhi or qilin, with flames shooting off his body, indicating his supernatural power.

Coromandel screen (c. 1662- c.1722)Museu de São Roque

Coromandel screen, China, Fujian province, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Kangxi period (1662–1722), Wood, plaster, carved polychrome lacquer and metal, Lisbon, Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida, inv. FMA 305 / 231

A procession led by a horse-drawn carriage, may show the arrival of a Portuguese delegation in Macao, perhaps an embassy, due to the apparatus surrounding the cortège. According to some authors it could be the embassy of Manuel de Saldanha (1667–1670), sent by the King of Portugal to Kangxi Emperor.

City view, most probably of Macao.

Europeans' Vase (c.1736- c. 1795)Museu de São Roque

'Europeans' Vase, China, Jiangxi province,Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong period (1736–1795), Polychrome porcelain, Lisbon, Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida, inv. FMA 4500

This rare piece distinguishes itself by the figures holding the vase, showing two European with one knee on the ground, dressed in Western attire with tailcoats and tricorns in the style worn by nobles in the 18th century. These European are represented in an attitude of paying tribute to the emperor (in this case Qianlong) kneeling and minimized before the huge jar.

Sedan Chair (c. 1775- c.1800)Museu de São Roque

Sedan chair France, 1775–1800, Wood and bronze, Lisbon, Museu Nacional dos Coches, inv. V0069

The chairs were so useful for moving around the narrow streets of towns and cities, that kings, princes, ambassadors and nobles began to travel in them from the 18th century. It is possible that the ambassador Alexandre de Metelo travelled in a similar sedan chair during parts of his journey through the hinterlands of the Chinese empire to Beijing, to visit Emperor Yongzheng in 1727.

Businesses, Partnerships and Chartered Companies: The Time of Tea and Porcelain (2019) by DifusionMuseu de São Roque

Section 2 - Businesses Partnerships and Chartered Companies: The Time of Tea and Porcelain

During the eighteenth century, Euro-Asian maritime trade peaked, following an unprecedented surge in European demand for exotic goods. Cotton textiles, porcelain, tea and coffee experienced an increasing penetration in European households. The popularization of tea also triggered a profound change in European material culture. The hot beverage was associated with the spread of less durable materials, like porcelain, and new objects that contributed to the emergence of new patterns of sociability and domesticity. The big East India companies dominated part of this trade, which also interested the mercantile communities of Lisbon. Through licenses granted by King João V (1706-1750), from 1710 onwards, ships regularly set sail from Lisbon to Macau, Coromandel and Bengal, without needing to call at Goa. This trade was carried out by merchants organized in trading partnerships or chartered companies, but it also involved the participation of foreign investors. In this integration in transnational business networks, Lisbon and its mercantile agents responded to the growing European demand of Asian commodities.

Model of Portuguese Ship (c. 1800)Museu de São Roque

Model of Portuguese ship, Portugal, late 18th century, Wood, Lisbon, Museu de Marinha, inv. MM 05208

Ships built at the royal shipyard in Bahia (Brazil), such as the one depicted here, were regularly employed in the Carreira da Índia from the seventeenth century on. The round trip from Lisbon-Macao-Lisbon could be completed in seventeen to eighteen months.

Coin of 8 reales (face) (1788-1808)Museu de São Roque

8 ‘reales’ coins (face), Mexico/Bolivia, 1788–1808, Silver Lisbon, Banco de Portugal – Museu do Dinheiro, inv. 9002801600

Coin of 8 reales (crown) (1788-1808)Museu de São Roque

8 ‘reales’ coins (crown), Mexico/Bolivia, 1788–1808, Silver Lisbon, Banco de Portugal – Museu do Dinheiro, inv. 9002801600

Due to China's disinterest in European products and manufactures, about 90% of European ships loads to Chinese markets consisted of silver, especially reales de a ocho.

Yuanbao of 5 taels (c.1880)Museu de São Roque

Yuanbao of 5 taels, China, Yunnan province, late 19th century early 20th century, Mexican silver , Lisbon, Banco de Portugal – Museu do Dinheiro, inv. 42400465190

Silver, traded by weight, was in high demand and had a high purchasing power, playing a crucial role in China’s foreign trade. During the 18th and 19th century, sycee silver ingots could take the form of cakes, ingots or saddles, like this late specimen.

Silk swatches from the Portuguese royal silk factory (c. 1750)Museu de São Roque

Silk swatches from the Portuguese royal silk factory Portugal, mid-18th century, Silk and paper, Lisbon, Arquivo Histórico do Tribunal de Contas [Portugal], Cartório, avulsos, bx. 83

In 1734 the royal silk factory was founded, with the express support of King João V in the form of tax exemptions and production monopoly rights. These sheets displaying samples of silk fabrics were a kind of buyer’s catalog. European merchants also used pattern books with designs reflecting 18th century European taste to place orders for silk woven in China.

Armorial Tea Canister (c.1662- c.1722)Museu de São Roque

Armorial Tea Canister, China, Qing dynasty (1644- 1911), Kangxi period (1662–1722), Pewter with gilt inlay, Lisbon, Coleção RA, inv. 1064 A

The fashion for drinking tea in Europe stimulated a need for a variety of tea drinking wares and tea canisters became an essential part of the equipment needed for serving tea. The tea canister was used to contain tea leaves, protecting them from light and humidity and consequently, preserving their aromatic qualities and freshness.

Tea Canister (1740)Museu de São Roque

Tea Canister Porcelain decorated in famille rose enamels, en grisaille and gold, China, Qing Dynasty (1644- 1911), Qianlong Period (1736–1795), ca. 1740, Lisbon/London, Jorge Welsh Works of Ar Inv. No. 757

We can see a European man with long red hair wearing a tricorn hat and a long pipe. He is watching his assistant, dressed in a yellow coat, as he negotiates with a Chinese merchant in a long gown and a red and black hat. This conversation is followed attentively by a boy making tea.

The scene is watched through a window by another chinese trader, sitting next to a scale.

Pair of cups and saucers (1735)Museu de São Roque

Pair of Cups and Saucers, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Yongzheng period (1723–1735), c. 1735, Polychrome porcelain, Lisbon/London, Jorge Welsh Works of Art

Working for a wide range of export markets, Chinese potters became accustomed to adapting to the specific demands of their customers. Porcelain with western shapes and decorations became particularly popular in the 18th century. The majority of these designs were copied after prints or drawings that were often supplied by the customers

Kettle with stand and burner (c. 1740 - c. 1760)Museu de São Roque

Kettle with stand and burner, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong period (1736–1795), 1740-1760 Polychrome porcelain, Lisbon/London, Jorge Welsh Works of Art

The shape of this finely painted kettle, stand and burner set is based on English models from around 1720.

Representation of three Chinese figures, including two ladies and a boy. One lady is sitting on a bench and the other on a stool, at the center the boy is looking at a drawing or a text.

A Time of Fascination, Exchange and Tension (2019) by DifusionMuseu de São Roque

Section 3 - A Time of Fascination, Exchange and Tension

The cultural and scientific-technological exchange was perhaps one of the richest and most intense of the Sino-European and Sino-Portuguese relationships. It was also a time of growing mutual understanding and fascination, which was especially evident during a considerable period of the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722). However, when King João V ascended the Portuguese throne, in December 1706, the winds of change were already blowing. The so-called ‘Chinese Rites controversy’ led to the polarization of opinions. In 1724, Emperor Yongzheng (1723-1735), Kangxi's successor, eventually proscribed Christianity, while Rome condemned the Chinese rites again in 1715 and reiterated their position in 1742. The influence of China on Europe in the first half of the 18th century was very significant, with respect to both its material and intellectual culture. In Qing China, despite the difficult circumstances, missionaries - who from 1724 were legally restricted to Beijing and their scientific-technological and artistic activities, carried out under the auspices of the Emperor, namely Qianlong (1736-1795) - were still highly relevant in the fields of astrology, cartography, watchmaking, painting and architecture, but also the Christian religion itself.

Mafnet mounted in a crown, a gift from emperors Kangxi to João V (c. 1662 - c. 1722) by William DugoodMuseu de São Roque

Magnet mounted in a crown, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Kangxi period (1662–1722), Magnetite, iron, lead, wood and ivory, Coimbra, Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra, inv. FIS.0290

This instrument was built in Lisbon by the Englishman William Dugood.

The magnetite was offered by Kangxi Emperor to King João V in 1722, and so it was dubbed the chinese magnete. When placed in this position, the magnet was used to magnetise pointers for use in navigation.

Representation of the Astronomical Observatory of Beijing (1736) by Jean-Baptiste du HaldeMuseu de São Roque

JEAN-BAPTISTE DU HALDE (1674–1743), Representation of the Astronomical Observatory of Peking in Description [...] de l’Empire de la Chine, vol. 3, Paris, 1736, Print on paper, Lisbon, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, HG 2525 A

Since the beginning of the Jesuit presence in China science had an important role in their public practices.

Here a detail of a sextant, used to measure the angular distance between two visible objects.

They aimed to impress the cultured classes, and in particular the Emperor, with the power of Western science.

A detail of celestial globe showing the apparent positions of the stars in the sky.

Catholic church in Beijing (1729)Museu de São Roque

Catholic church in Beijing, China, Macao, c. 1729, Drawing on paper Lisbon, Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino, CARm. China, D.758

This drawing constitute a representation of the interior of one of the churches of the Portuguese Padroado in Beijing, the church of St. Joseph or Dongtang (“eastern church”), whose first building recedes to 1655.

Saint Anthony of Padua or Lisbon (c. 1770 - c. 1780)Museu de São Roque

Saint Anthony of Padua or Lisbon, China, c. 1770–1780, Tempera on silk stretched on wooden frame, Lisbon, Coleção São Roque Antiguidades

The Chinese origin of the painting of Saint Anthony of Padua or Lisbon (1193? - 1231) is apparent not only in the medium, materials, pictorial style and bold use of colour, but also in several subtle iconographic characteristics, such as the depiction of typically Asian anatomical features.

Teapot (1740) by UnknownMuseu de São Roque

Tea Canister and Cover with portrait of St. Ignatius Loyola, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong period (1736–1795), c. 1745, Painted and gilded porcelain, Lisbon, Museum of São Roque, inv. MSR. AO. 42

This tea canister integrates a rare group of porcelain pieces belonging to the Museum of São Roque, depicting Saint Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. This type of decoration sought to reproduce the European prints brought by missionaries, which were much admired by Emperor Kangxi.

Elephant' mantle clock (c. 1777 - c. 1795) by Japy Frères & CieMuseu de São Roque

JAPY FRÈRES & CIE (1777–1826), ‘Elephant’ mantle clock, France and China, 1777–1795, Gilded bronze and enamel, glass, steel and brass, Lisbon, Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida, inv. FMA 4164 /429 REL

In 18th-century China, European watches gained some success, especially in the imperial court. Much of this technology had been introduced by the missionary-scientists of the Society of Jesus.

Bentside Spinet (Spinettino) (c.1800) by Unknown authorMuseu de São Roque

Bentside Spinet (Spinettino), Unknown author, 18th century, Italy, Polychromed wood, wood coated in painted paper, metal, Lisbon, Museu da Música, inv. MM 698

Some Jesuits, such as Tomás Pereira, where builders and performers of European musical instruments at the imperial court in Beijing. The curiosity of Qing emperors in relation to this type of musical instruments was notorious, leading some of them to play four hands with Jesuit missionaries.

The painted interior of this spinet, produced in Italy, is an attempt to imitate the Asian-style lacquer. In the 18th century chinoiseries became highly fashionable in interior decoration.

Macao - A Time of changing Times (2019) by DifusionMuseu de São Roque

Section 4 - Macao: a Time of Changing Times

In the first half of the 18th century, Macao experienced a period of profound change, which forced its institutions (the Senate and the Santa Casa da Misericórdia) as much as the Chinese and Luso-Asian elite to develop strategies that were essential for the survival of the city. Among other things, these new times brought with them an increase of bureaucratic, political, military and even judicial pressure and control by the Qing dynasty. The changing times also required that Macao redefine its relationship with the centralizing Portuguese Crown and the governors, its representatives in the city. Macao also had to readjust its commercial geography and economic diplomacy to new European competitors in Chinese markets and East Asia in general. In these new times, the city expanded spatially, and took on a more hybrid architectural appearance, while maintaining the predominantly Chinese urban profile that it had had since the early days of the Portuguese settlement back in 1555/1557.

Model of the Macao Senate according to Aomen Jilue (1751) (c.1900 - c.1950)Museu de São Roque

Model of the Macao Senate according to Aomen Jilüe (1751), Lisbon, 20th century, Wood and cardboard, Lisbon, Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau, I.P, inv. 3353

This model of the Macao Senate is a reproduction of a drawing in the Chinese book Brief Monograph of Macau (1751). As it turns out, the Macao Senate building has a typical Chinese architecture, which has prevailed in the city until the mid or late
18th century.

Partial view of Macao (c.1680 -c.1690)Museu de São Roque

Partial view of Macao, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Kangxi period (1662–1722), late 17th century, early 18th century, Painted and lacquered wood, Oporto, private collection.

View of Macao, showing the Chinese-style urban profile.

Letter from Zhang, Perfect of Xiangshan (1726) by ZhangMuseu de São Roque

Letter form Zhang Prefect of Xiangshan, about the embassy of Alexandre Meneses, China, Xiangshan district, 1726, Manuscript on paper, Évora, Biblioteca Pública, codex CXVI/2-6 Chapa Sínica, doc. n. 1, fl. 452

Ceremonial Moro armour (c. 1800- c.1850)Museu de São Roque

Ceremonial Moro armour, Philippines, Mindanao, 19th century Copper, metal and silver alloy, Lisbon, Coleção Francisco Capelo

Islam was present in the Philippines before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, and its influence was visible, for example, on clothing and armament. Macao maintained maritime trade with the Philippines, notably with Manila, between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Opium pipe (c.1880 - c.1890)Museu de São Roque

Opium pipe, China, 19th century (?), Blackwood (?), jade and white copper (baitong), Lisbon, former José Vicente Jorge collection

Opium has been known in China since antiquity, initially administered as a medicinal plant. Its cultivation is thought to have started during the Tang dynasty (618–906), given that by the Song period (960–1279) there were already recommendations relating to its preparation and properties. From the 18th century onwards, some European powers were enriched by the opium trade from India to China.

Large Bencharong bowl (c. 1780 - c. 1790)Museu de São Roque

Large Bencharong bowl, China, Jiangxi province/Thailand, mid-late 18th century, Porcelain decorated with polychrome enamel, Lisbon, SCML/Casa Ásia – Coleção Francisco Capelo, inv. CA-CFC.405

Throughout the first half of the 18th century, Macao maintained its intense and long-standing commercial and political relationship with the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand).

The representation of Thepanoms and Norasinghs were common on Bencharong bowls

Thepanoms are celestial beings from Buddhist cosmology.

Norasinghs are Buddhist semi-divinities, which combine a human torso, arms and head with the rear limbs and tail of a lion and leg of a deer

Carafe (1662-1722) by -Museu de São Roque

Carrafe, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Kangxi period (1662–1722), late 17th century, early 18th century, White glazed porcelain with relifef decoration, Lisbon, former José Vicente Jorge collection
This exceptional piece belonged to the collection of José Vicente Jorge, an illustrious representative of the Macanese community. translator, teacher and mediator in in the decision-making of the Portuguese administration at Macao.

Portrait of Friar Hilário de santa Rosa (c. 1740-1742) by Unknown authorMuseu de São Roque

Portrait of Friar Hilário de Santa Rosa, Bishop of Macao (1740–1752), Portugal, c. 1740–1742, Oil on canvas, Lisbon, Museum of São Roque, inv. PIN 204

Friar Hilário de Santa Rosa was appointed Bishop of Macao in 1740.

Friar Hilário presented in 1750 a daring project to the King of Portugal suggesting the conquest of part of South China by Portugal.

Mandarin winter hat (19th century) by -Museu de São Roque

Mandarin winter hat (7th rank), China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), mid 19th century (?) Felt, silk and gilded metal, Lisbon, private collection

This hat from a 7th rank civilian mandarin (one of the lowest in the hierarchy of imperial civil bureaucracy during Qing dynasty), is similar to that used by the Macao’s Senate Procuradores (who were equated with 7th rank civilian mandarin) in their visits to China or at the reception to senior Chinese provincial or imperial officials in Macao.

Figure of a European Gentleman (c. 1736 - c. 1795)Museu de São Roque

Figure of a European Gentleman, China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong period (1736–1795), Polychrome terracotta on bamboo stand, Lisbon/London, Jorge Welsh Works of Art

Unfired clay statuettes of this type were produced in
China throughout the 18th and until the early 19th century and were especially appreciated by European visitors who would take them home as souvenirs.

Portrait of Francisco Xavier Roquete (1833)Museu de São Roque

VO QUA (WU QUA?), Portrait of Francisco Xavier Roquete, China, Macao, 19th century (c. 1833), Oil on canvas, Macao, Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Macau

Francisco Xavier Roquete (d. Calcutta, 1817) arrived in Macao in the second half of the 18th century and made considerable fortune, trading in East Asia. He donated his fortune to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Macau, becoming the most generous benefactor in the history of that institution.

Credits: Story

Temporary exhibition at the Museu de São Roque, Lisbon Portugal. 19th December 2019 to 5th April 2020.

Jorge Santos Alves

Jorge Santos Alves, António Vilhena de Carvalho; Isabel Murta Pina; Joao Paulo Salvado and Susana Munch Miranda

Ana Maria Pacheco Jorge Calado, Portugal
Arquivo Distrital de Braga/Universidade do Minho, Portugal
Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino/Direção-Geral do Livro,dos Arquivos e das Bibliotecas, Portugal
Biblioteca da Ajuda/Direção-Geral do Património Cultural, Portugal
Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Portugal
Biblioteca Pública de Évora, Portugal
Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau, I.P., Portugal
Centro Nacional de Arqueologia Náutica e Subaquática / Direção-Geral
do Património Cultural, Portugal
Francisco Capelo, Portugal
Fundação Medeiros e Almeida, Portugal
Fundação Oriente, Portugal
Instituto dos Arquivos Nacionais – Torre do Tombo
Jorge Welsh Works of Art, Portugal
Mário Roque/Sao Roque Antiguidades, Portugal
Musèe des Beaux-Arts de Dole, France
Museu da Ciência / Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
Museu da Música, Portugal
Museu de Marinha, Portugal
Museu do Dinheiro / Banco de Portugal, Portugal
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Portugal
Museu Nacional dos Coches, Portugal
Palace Museum, Beijing, China
Santa Casa da Misericordia de Macau, Macao
Tribunal de Contas, Portugal

Carlos Pietra Torres
Gonçalo Arruda


Gonçalo de Carvalho Amaro and Maria do Carmo Lino
Museu de São Roque

Gonçalo de Carvalho Amaro
Museu de São Roque

Margarida Montenegro
Culture Director of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa

Teresa Morna
Director of Museu de São Roque

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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