Pleasures for the Holidays

Twenty-two picturesque volumes to enjoy without reservations


In 1715 a young Italian Jesuit missionary, Giuseppe Castiglione, arrived in Peking and, like other Jesuits of his time, soon went to work for the Emperor, Kang xi. For a half-century, under the name Lang Shining, Castiglione served as a court painter, brilliantly blending Western and Eastern styles. Lang Shining's success is evident in Treasures of the Forbidden City (Viking; 262 pages; $75); his monumental painting of a deer-hunting party is one of only 100 art objects chosen for this book from more than 910,000 items in Peking's Palace Museum. The selection, compiled and annotated by Zhu Jiajin...

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