‘I have been collecting antique Chinese paintings since 1968, and was so excited when this came up at auction. It is what’s known as a bannerman scroll, one of a hundred painted for the Hall of Imperial Brilliance in Beijing. It depicts a royal bodyguard named Keshike Batu Luwuke Shier. He was a warrior hero; the inscription says that he was shot in the back and the bullet could not be removed.
‘I was a designer for my brand Pandora Fashion, and I like his uniform. The finial on his hat tells you that he is a guard of the third rank, and the peacock feather is a favour from the emperor Qianlong. I also like his face: he is a good-looking man.
‘The portrait appeared on the cover of a book. After that people went crazy for this painting and it was shown in various exhibitions’
‘The scroll is not signed, but I know who painted it because the curator at the Palace Museum, Nie Chongzheng, looked into the records and found that the face was painted by Ignatius Sichelbart, a Bohemian Jesuit artist who worked for the emperor, while a Chinese court painter named Jin Tingbiao painted the rest. No one knew that until I asked Mr Nie to do some research for me.
‘The portrait appeared on the cover of a book, The Manchu Way by Mark Elliott. After that, people went crazy for this painting and it was shown in various exhibitions. I enjoy lending my pieces to museums — it makes me very happy. The Freer-Sackler Gallery, the Norton Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum have all borrowed works from my collection.
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‘I look at the treasures I have at home every day; they are like my family. Some of my friends have no hobbies and I tell them: learn about art, you’ll never get bored.’