The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) presents the Melbourne Winter Master-pieces, featuring a dual presentation of past and present Chinese art and culture. Opening in May, this exhibition will bring forth this concept by exhibiting the world famous ancient Terracotta Warriors alongside a parallel display of new works by famous contemporary artist, Cai Guo-Qiang.
The Terracotta Warriors are known as the guardians of immortality and the eighth wonder of the world. This exhibition will feature eight warrior figures and two life-size horses from the Imperial Army, as well as two half-size replica bronze chariots, each drawn by four horses. ‘The Transient Landscape’ by Cai Guo-Qiang on the other hand will see new art works inspired by his home country’s culture and its enduring philosophical traditions, including a monumental installation of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds.
These pistols are among the finest known examples of English Neoclassical-style firearms. Each stock is inlaid with engraved sheet silver and embellished with heavy cast-silver mounts. This decoration was inspired by contemporary French Empire firearms, such as those by Boutet also in the Metropolitan Museum’s collection (acc. nos. 36.58a–c, 42.50.7a–n, and 1970.179.1). Several of the motifs are based on ancient Roman sources. On the sideplate, for example, the Nereid riding a sea-leopard derives from an engraving of 1762 depicting a wall painting in the recently found ruins of Herculaneum. On the trigger guard, the oval medallion representing Hercules with a defeated Amazon is copied from a well-known antique gem. The Medusa head on the butt also derives from Classical art, but here the idealized model has been transformed into a grimacing, almost humorous caricature of the legendary gorgon.
Pair of Flintlock Pistols
The original owner of this remarkably decorated pair remains unknown, but the pistols’ opulence and French character suggests they may have belonged to George IV (1762–1830) or someone in his circle. Their gold-inlaid locks are the most lavish ever produced by John Manton’s firm during his lifetime. The carved eagle on the grip—a feature also found on a pair of the king’s pistols, made for him when he was Prince of Wales, now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (Acc. no. RCIN 6166)—is here further enhanced with gold-inlaid eyes. Similarly expressive lions may be found adorning the pommels of contemporary Parisian firearms, a possible source of inspiration for the accomplished steel chiseler Manton commissioned to create the mounts for this unique pair. The mounts, which include elaborate belt hooks chiseled with swirling acanthus leaves, are unsigned.
British gunmakers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries seldom deviated from the sober style that brought them fame throughout Europe and distinguished their work from that of the Continent. But for wealthy clients, particularly the Prince of Wales, later George IV (1762–1830), they shed standard decorative patterns in favor of more ostentatious embellishments. The prince was the preeminent patron of contemporary London gunmakers from the late 1780s through the 1820s, and over his lifetime he commissioned dozens of superlative firearms for sporting, personal use, and presentation. Gunmakers enhanced select firearms and accessories for the prince by substituting silver mounts for traditional steel, adding engraved and gilt ornament to the locks and barrels, and personalizing the weapons with the royal arms and Prince of Wales feathers. But the prince’s affinity for all things French also sometimes guided the gunmakers’ decorative choices. Indeed, he built his palatial London home at Carlton House (demolished in 1827) with an eye to the French Neoclassical style and decorated it with artworks, furniture, and other accoutrements from France. The most elaborate works by royally favored gunmakers catered to this taste and achieved a graceful blend of French-inspired decoration with traditional British design and technology.
Made by James Purdey the Elder (British, London 1784–1863 Margate). British, London, ca. 1831. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1935 (35.41.1–.15)
Pair of Four-Barreled Turnover Percussion Pistols of Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, 4th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne (1785–1851), with Pair of Box-Lock Turn-Off Pocket Pistols, Case, and Accessories
Recent archival research revealed this lavish set to be one of the costliest pistol ensembles ever made by James Purdey, selling for £101 10s in 1831. Purdey made just ten four-barreled pistols in his career, and this pair is the only surviving set cased with pocket pistols. It is remarkable, too, for its exceptional state of preservation. The combination of vivid blueing, case-hardening, and finely finished wood looks much as it would have to the original owner, the fourth Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne.
One of the most famous British aristocrats of his era, the fourth Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne took delivery of this lavish pistol set from Purdey in April 1831. The duke purchased it for self-defense three months after being assaulted by a mob in the streets of Newark. The attack was prompted by his vigorous opposition to electoral reform, a contentious national issue that reached a boiling point in the early 1830s. Roughly six months after the duke acquired his pistols, the House of Lords rejected a new reform bill, resulting in widespread public violence. Several private residences were attacked, including the duke’s Nottingham mansion, which rioters burned to the ground on October 10, 1831. The duke was in London at the time. Weapons with a small customer base among the elite, Purdey’s four-barreled pistols show the great expense that members of the aristocracy lavished on firearms for personal protection.
Formerly known as Chang’an, Xi’an is one important ancient city in the world that you absolutely must visit! It is now a popular tourist site because of its rich history and good food.
5 top places in Xi’an:
1. Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum
Listed as a world UNESCO heritage site, the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum located in the Lintong District is the tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. It also holds the world famous Terracotta Army.
2. Bell Tower
Built in the early Ming Dynasty, the Bell Tower of Xi’an is located right at the centre of the city and is an important landmark of Xi’an. It is one of its finest kind in China.
3. Famen Temple Cultural Scenic Area
Known as the second cultural symbol of Shaanxi, the Famen Temple Cultural Scenic Area is renowned for storing the Finger Bone of the Sakyamuni Buddha. One of its sectors, the Namaste Dagoba, has a fascinating theatre performance of the history of Famen Temple that you should not miss!
4. Qianling Mausoleum
The Qianling Mausoleum is where tombs of the imperial family of the Tang Dynasty are located. This includes the tombs of the famous Emperor Tang Gaozong and his wife, Emperor Wu Zetian, the only female Emperor to ever rule in China.
5. Muslim Quarter
Rich in culture and it’s abundance of delicious food, the Muslim Quarter not only enclaves the majority of the Muslim population of Xi’an, but has also turned into one of the most visited tourist spots in the district!
5 top dishes in Xi’an:
1. Biang Biang noodles
Savoury and chewy in taste, the classic Biang Biang noodles made from wheat flour are served with vinegar and topped with assorted vegetables and braised meats. ‘Biang’ describes the sound made when the noodle dough is slapped against the working surface repeatedly.
2. Liang Pi
Made from wheat or rice flour, Liang Pi (Cold Skin Noodles) is a local snack where cold thinly sliced rice noodles are drizzled with chilli oil sauce and topped with spices and vegetables. It is a yummy vegan dish!
3. Rou Jia Mo
Invented in the Qin Dynasty, Rio Jia Mo is the oldest hamburger in the world, It is a crispy handmade bread with tender stewed fatty pork patty stuffed in the middle! Other meat alternatives are also available.
4. Yang Rou Pao Mo
Yang Rou Pao Mo is a dish where hand-pulled flatbread crumbles are cooked in a flavourful mutton broth with rice vermicelli and topped with slices of lamb or beef of your choice and pickled sweet garlic. Hand-pulling the flatbread is also a time to gossip and socialize for locals!
5. Suan Tang Shui Jiao
Suan Tang Shui Jiao with locally made mutton dumplings are boiled in a mouth-watering hot and sour soup. Every dumpling is an explosion of flavour! Sesame seeds, chopped leeks and cilantro are added to make the dish pop!