Etchings of Old Summer Place – 漢來大飯店 (The Grand Hi Lai Hotel)

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Twenty copperplate etchings of Western-style Building in Changchun Palace were made by Italian painter, Giuseppe Castiglione (1609 – 1664), who was also one of designers of the Western-style Building. The Building’s construction was completed by Chinese craftsmen. The etchings are an authentic record of the completed building. The building’s external appearance, details, measurements etc. are regarded as being correct. So, the record has great value in Chinese architectural history.  From the above, the building has a T-shape. Its style is Baroque (the style coming after the late European Renanssance). In the etchings, trees are trimmed into certain shapes; in the front part are water fountains; the garden is Western-style. The style of the building’s pillars, eaves, doors, windows, handrails, railings etc. are classical-European. Yet, in the fine decorative details, Chinese special styles remain. So the building is indeed a representative work of Chinese and Western combination.  Although the etching is mono-coloured, it seems that a variety of colours can be seen when examining the looseness and density of the lines. The “Old Summer Palace” is the general name for Yuanming, Changchun, Qichun (later changed to “Wanchun”) palaces. It was once upon a time praised as an “Oriental Versailles.”

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