The Emperor Qianlong commissionned the original set of sixteen engravings of his conquests on July 13, 1765 for the central hall of the Palace in Beijing. The drawings, originally larger than the present set, were prepared in China by four Jesuits: Giuseppe Castiglione, the director of the project, Jean-Denis Attiret, Ignatius Sichelbarth and Jean Damascène. By recommandation of Louis-Joseph Le Febvre, head of the French Jesuit mission to China, they were sent to Paris, where the engravings were executed by eight artists under the direction of Charles-Nicolas Cochin of the Académie Royales. This commission was considered of utmost importance, as it potentially offered France means of leaving a favorable impression on the Emperor and thus gaining advantage in view of commerce and missionning, directed against the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Qianlong's commission was for an edition of one hundred copies only; however, to ensure the safe receipt of at least one hundred copies in China, an edition of 200 copies was actually printed. To reduce the risk of loss at sea they were distributed over two ships in lots of 100 impressions each. The entire edition was received in China by 1775 for which the Compagnie Française des Indes in Canton was payed the sum of 240,000 pounds. Only a very limited number of extra copies was printed for the French King, his ministers and some members of the Court and the greatest precaution was taken that no copies remained with the engravers or printers to ensure its exclusivity.