This series, designed by Guy-Louis Vernansal (d. 1729), Jean-Baptiste Belin de Fontenay (d. 1715) and Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (d. 1699) for the Royal Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory between 1685 and 1690, consisted of nine or possibly ten tapestries. It was first woven under the directorship of Philippe Béhagle (d. 1705). In a memorandum concerning the tapestries made under his directorship, he lists this series as Chinoise faict par quatre illustre peintre - the fourth painter, if he ever existed, is unidentified. A further memorandum by Béhagle indicates that the first set, woven with gold-thread (rarely used by Beauvais), was vendu par M. d'Isrode à Monseigneur le duc de Maine. M. d'Isrode appears to have acted as intermediary, as it is known that he had two further sets made. Le duc de Maine, in his late teens, seems to have given rise to the series shortly after 1685, when he gave a scientific instrument he had had commissioned for himself to Jesuits leaving for China in that year. The series was abandoned at Beauvais in 1732, when the cartoons were so worn that they could no longer serve their purpose.
L'Histoire du Roi de Chine illustrates scenes of everyday life of a Chinese emperor, probably meant to represent Kangxi, who reigned 1661 - 1721, and his Empress. The figure of the Emperor was adapted from the title page of Johan Nieuhof's L'Ambassade de la Compagnie orientale des Provinces Unies vers l'Empereur de la Chine, Amsterdam, 1665.
The first noteable tapestry manufactories in Germany were founded around the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Pierre Mercier, from Aubusson in the Marche, is recorded as having produced a sample tapestry for the Elector Friedrich III in Berlin in 1786. He was consequently entrusted with the establishment of a tapestry manufactory and received a grant from the Elector, but had to close it in 1713 upon the death of Friedrich III. Jean Barraband, Mercier's brother-in-law and also from Aubusson, joined Mercier in 1699. He established his own tapestry manufactory, which he ran until his death in 1709, in the Lustgarten, when his son Jean II Barraband succeeded him. The Barraband atelier, although it occasionally received commissions or grants from the Elector, primarily relied on private clients. Unlike Mercier, who received the cartoons for his tapestries from the court, the Barraband workshop had to be more innovative to insure that their tapestries would be economically viable. They took direct inspiration from successful designs of the Royal Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory. The first recorded delivery of the Histoire du Roi de Chine set by Jean II Barraband was in 1713 and the design was simplified from the elaborate Beauvais design and reversed. Because of the lack of documentation it is not entirely clear if the Barraband workshop had not woven the theme earlier. The Audienz is closely related to its Beauvais version, while the other tapestries of the series were extensively redesigned by the workshop. The Berlin workshop produced various other Beauvais series, including one based on the Grotesques de Berain (see lot 221) which is signed Barraband à Berlin MDCCXIII.
A complete set of Berlin tapestries of L'Histoire du Roi de Chine, which had been commissioned by Prince Alexander von Dohna and was delivered in 1713, was at Schloss Schlobitten in East Prussia before World War II. Five tapestries, owned by Prince Liechtenstein, were at Schloss Valtice, Feldsberg, Moravia, in 1935 and an Audienz was in a private collection in Athens in 1972.
A tapestry, then with the dealer C. John, London, illustrating The Emperor's Banquet from the Berlin series and attributed to Charles Vigne, is illustrated in Apollo, October 1986, p. 21. Beauvais versions of L'Audience du Prince were sold anonymously at Sotheby's Monaco, 23 June 1991, lot 535, and Sotheby's New York, 19 November 1993, lot 78.