1665 Nieuhof Antique Print Imperial Palace Peking or the Forbidden City, Beijing

Publisher : Johan Nieuhof

  • Title : Platte Grondt van Skeyers Hof in Pekin; Forme de la Cour Imperiale de Peking
  • Ref #:  17055
  • Size: 15in x 12 1/2in (380mm x 310mm)
  • Date : 1665
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition

This original copper-plate engraved antique print a birds-eye view of the Imperial Palace & extensive gardens in Peking, now Beijing, or the Forbidden City by Johan Nieuhof was published by Jacob van Meurs in the 1665 edition of L’Ambassade de la Compagnie Orientale des Provinces Unies vers l’Empereur de la Chine, ou Grand Cam de Tartarie, faite par les sieurs Pierre de Goyer et Jacob de Keyser illustrée d’une très-exacte description des villes, bourgs, villages, ports de mer et autres lieux plus considérables de la Chine....1665. Title in English: An embassy from the East-India Company (1669).

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: -
Colors used: -
General color appearance: -
Paper size: - 15in x 12 1/2in (380mm x 310mm)
Plate size: - 12 1/2in x 7 1/2in (310mm x 195mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None

The Forbidden City is a palace complex in Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, at the center of the Imperial City of Beijing. It is surrounded by numerous opulent imperial gardens and temples including the 22-hectare Zhongshan Park, the sacrificial Imperial Ancestral Temple, the 69-hectare Beihai Park, and the 23-hectare Jingshan Park.
The Forbidden City was constructed from 1406 to 1420, and was the former Chinese imperial palace and winter residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming dynasty (since the Yongle Emperor) to the end of the Qing dynasty, between 1420 and 1924. The Forbidden City served as the home of Chinese emperors and their households and was the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for over 500 years. Since 1925, the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artifacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The complex consists of 980 buildings, encompassing 8,886 rooms and covering 720,000 square metres (72 hectares)/178 acres. The palace exemplifies the opulence of the residences of the Chinese emperor and the traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. It is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. Since 2012, the Forbidden City has seen an average of 14 million visitors annually, and received more than 19 million visitors in 2019. In 2018, The Forbidden Citys market value has been estimated at US$70 billion, making it both the worlds most valuable palace and the most valuable piece of real estate anywhere in the world.
Some sources describe it as the largest palace in the world still in existence, but other Chinese imperial residences far exceed it in size, namely the 6.1 km2 (610 ha) Zhongnanhai which lies just west of the Forbidden City, the 2.9 km2 (290 ha) Summer Palace in Haidian District, Beijing, and the 5.6 km2 (560 ha) Chengde Mountain Resort in Chengde, Hebei Province.
The Forbidden City in Beijing is one of the largest and most well-preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. It is a national AAAAA-level tourist attraction in China. It was listed as the first batch of national key cultural relics in 1961 and listed as a world cultural heritage in 1987.

Nieuhof, Johan (1618 – 1672)
Nieuhof was a Dutch traveler who wrote about his journeys to Brazil, China and India. The most famous of these was a trip of 2,400 kilometers from Canton to Peking in 1655-1657, which enabled him to become an authoritative Western writer on China. He wrote An embassy from the East-India Company containing the written account of this journey.
Johan Nieuhof was born in Uelsen, a town in the county of Bentheim, Lower Saxony, sitting just across the Dutch-German border. His father (originally from Zwolle) was mayor of the town, and was later succeeded by one of Johans brothers and brother-in-law. By the grace of Cornelis Jan Witsen, a leading figure within the Dutch West India Company (or WIC), Nieuhof left for Dutch Brazil in 1640 as a reserve officer-candidate. From then on, barring two short family visits in 1658 and 1671, he spent all the rest of his life abroad.
Nieuhof was employed in Brazil to explore the regions between Maranhão and the São Francisco Rivers, made a particular study of the neighborhood of Pernambuco. He left Brazil in 1649, after the Portuguese victory in the Second Battle of Guararapes. Upon his return, Nieuhof joined the service of the Dutch East India Company (or VOC). In service of the VOC he resided several years in Batavia, and then was appointed in 1654 steward of an embassy to the relatively new Qing emperor China under Peter de Goyer and Jacob de Keyser, which aimed to gain trading rights on Chinas southern coast.
He remained in China until 1657. In 1663 he operated as an ambassador in Quilon, after the occupation of the Malabar Coast by Rijckloff van Goens. During this period he visited several chiefs of indigenous tribes in order to secure trade relations with them. Afterwards, he was offered a post on Ceylon where he was stationed between 1663 and 1667. He was imprisoned for seven months because of illegal trade in pearls. Nieuhof was sent to Batavia by Hendrik van Rheede and fired by the Dutch East India Company.
On returning to the Indies from a trip home in 1672, he stopped on the isle of Madagascar. On October 8 1672, Nieuhof traveled inland along with the first mate, in search of the local tribes in order to trade with them, as well as secure water for his crew. Upon hearing several gunshots, the captain sent a second ship towards the island in order to await Nieuhofs return. After three days of waiting, the captain presumed Nieuhof and his company to be murdered and sailed onwards towards Mauritius. On order of the governing council in Amsterdam, a ship was sent from the Cape of Good Hope to retrieve Nieuhof and his fellows, but no trace of them could be found.
In the first half of the 17th century, the VOC tried to break the Portuguese monopoly position on trade to Macau. When they did not succeed, they sent six embassies to Peking between 1655 and 1685. Their aim was to convince the Qing emperor to open up trade relations on the southern coast, in favor of the VOC, although they ultimately failed. Nieuhof was appointed to the position of steward on one of these embassies by Joan Maetsuycker, which traveled from Canton to Peking between 1655 and 1658. They were the second embassy to try and gain the emperors favor, the first was led by Zacharias Wagenaer. Nieuhofs duties as part of the embassy primarily consisted of ceremonial matters as well as securing lodgings. He was, however, specifically appointed to illustrate any and all of the cities, palaces, temples, rivers and other noteworthy buildings in their true to nature form.
On March 17 1656, after months of negotiations and discussions of tributes to be paid to the Chinese emperor and viceroy, the embassy left Canton by barge, to travel towards Peking. The embassy arrived at the emperors court in Peking on July 18 the same year. The hired the jesuit scholar Johann Adam Schall von Bell to be their translator, who warned them of the possible dangers and required ceremonies to approach the emperor. On September 24, the embassy was received by the Shunzhi Emperor. As dictated by their translator, the party performed the traditional kowtow, as failing to do so would most likely result in immediate refusal by the emperor. As a result, the emperor allowed Dutch embassies to visit the court once every eight years, in parties consisting of no more than 100 men. Any trading rights were not discussed nor granted at this point. On October 16 the embassy was asked to leave the city of Peking within two hours. Their return trip took three months; putting the entire length of the embassy at 20 months and 6 days.
At his homecoming in 1658, he had entrusted his notes and annotations to his brother Hendrik, whom Johan thanked when finally (in 1665) Hendrik produced an ample study of China, with many images, text and explanation of the latest events. The work was published by Jacob van Meurs in 1665, titled Het Gezandtschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, aan den grooten Tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen Keizer van China: Waarin de gedenkwaerdigste Geschiedenissen, die onder het reizen door de Sineesche landtschappen, Quantung, Kiangsi, Nanking, Xantung en Peking, en aan het Keizerlijke Hof te Peking, sedert den jaren 1655 tot 1657 zijn voorgevallen, op het bondigste verhandelt worden. Beneffens een Naukeurige Beschrijvinge der Sineesche Steden, Dorpen, Regeering, Weetenschappen, Hantwerken, Zeden, Godsdiensten, Gebouwen, Drachten, Schepen, Bergen, Gewassen, Dieren, et cetera en oorlogen tegen de Tartar : verçiert men over de 150 afbeeltsels, nat leven in Sina getekent. Hendrik dedicated the work to Hendrik Spiegel and Cornelis Jan Witsen (Nicolaes Witsens father), administrators of the East and West India Companies respectively. Translations into French (1665), German (1666), Latin (1668) and English (1669) were also published, each going into at least two editions. More of Nieuhoffs material, on Chinese ships, appeared in Nicolaes Witsens Scheepsbouw (1671).
The reports from these embassies and the reports of the Jesuits formed the only reliable source of information on China available in Western Europe. As mentioned, being the purser of the VOC embassy to Peking, Johan Nieuhof in 1655 had special instructions to observe all farms, towns, palaces, rivers, ... [and other] buildings that he might pass by, drawing them in straight form and figure, as well as remains of the historical victory of the Tartars (Manchus) that brought an end to the reign of the Ming dynasty. The inclusion of approximately 150 illustrations in the book marked the first time that literature on China contained images that were true to nature. In previously published works, belonging to the imaginative fantastic tradition where fact and fiction were hardly discernible, the Chinese were depicted as creatures of fantasy. Nieuhofs illustrations, as opposed to these previous works, depicted the Chinese and their culture as they were observed by the illustrator himself, without fanciful additions.
The 150 illustrations of the Nieuhoffs book were one inspiration for chinoiserie, which became especially popular in the 18th century. Many artists and architects based their designs on the pictures in the book. The original drawings were rediscovered in 1984 in the collection of prince Roland Bonaparte, an anthropologist who collected material about Madagascar, Lapland and the Native Americans.
- Johannes Nieuhof (1668), Legatio batavica ad magnum Tartariæ chamum Sungteium, modernum Sinæ imperatorem; Historiarum narratione, quæ legatis in provinciis Quantung, Kiangsi, Nanking, Xantung, Peking, & aula imperatoriâ ab anno 1665 ad annum 1657 obtigerunt ..., Amstelodami: Jacobum Meursium, OCLC 2134985, OL 23411529M

- Het gezantschap der Neêrlandtsche Oost-Indische Compagnie, aan den grooten Tartarischen Cham, den tegenwoordigen keizer van China : waar in de gedenkwaerdighste geschiedenissen, die onder het reizen door de Sineesche landtschappen, Quantung, Kiangsi, Nanking, Xantung en Peking, en aan het keizerlijke hof te Peking, sedert den jare 1655 tot 1657 zijn voorgevallen, op het bondigste verhandelt worden : befeffens een naukeurige Beschryving der Sineesche steden, dorpen, regeering, wetenschappen, hantwerken, zeden, godsdiensten, gebouwen, drachten, schepen, bergen, gewassen, dieren, &c. en oorlogen tegen de Tarters : verçiert men over de 150 afbeeltsels, nat leven in Sina getekent. Amsterdam: Jacob van Meurs, 1665. Title in English: An embassy from the East-India Company (1669).
- Zee- en Lant-Reise door verscheide Gewesten van Oostindien, behelzende veele zeldzaame en wonderlijke voorvallen en geschiedenissen. Beneffens een beschrijving van lantschappen, dieren, gewassen, draghten, zeden en godsdienst der inwoonders: En inzonderheit een wijtloopig verhael der Stad Batavia. Amsterdam: de Weduwe van Jacob van Meurs, 1682. Google books
- Gedenkweerdige Brasiliaense Zee- en Lant-Reise und Zee- en Lant-Reize door verscheide Gewesten van Oostindien. Amsterdam: de Weduwe van Jacob van Meurs, 1682.