With the Empress Dowager of China


Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan

(4.1 stars; 8 reviews)

Through the eyes of an artist, With the Empress Dowager of China provides a glimpse of life in the Chinese Imperial Court, unseen by any other Westerner. In 1903, Katharine Carl, an American artist, was invited to paint a portrait of Cixi, the Empress Dowager of China, for display at the 1904 Exhibition at St Louis, USA. For nine months from the 5th of August 1903 when the painting was begun, Miss Carl lived within the Chinese Imperial Court, residing at the Summer Palace, Winter Palace and Sea Palace. During those nine months, a total of four portraits of the Empress Dowager were completed. While living in the Chinese Imperial Court, Miss Carl had the opportunity to observe the customs, personalities, entertainments and politics of the Royal household, and in particular to observe the Empress Dowager, who Miss Carl found to be graceful, warm, intelligent and generous.

Although Katharine Carl did not plan to publicise her experiences, With the Empress Dowager of China was written as a response to articles appearing in the American and British press containing statements never made by her and other misrepresentations. Words were being put into her mouth, she was being put into a very difficult position, and corrections needed to be made. By writing an account of life in the Imperial Court she risked “offending the sensibilities of her Chinese friends” since any comments on the personalities of the Emperor or Empress Dowager were considered to breaches of etiquette. Nevertheless, she did publish “a simple and truthful narrative of my experiences” in 1906.

For most of the time from 1861 until her death in 1908, Cixi, the Empress Dowager of China, was co-regent or regent, and was in control of the Chinese government, due to the youth and inexperience of the Emperors during those years as well as to her capabilities. Her legacy is controversial, and she is viewed variously as a despot, a reformer, and a capable and gracious ruler and administrator.

Katharine Carl’s St Louis Exposition portrait of the Empress Dowager of China resides in the collection of the Arthur M Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. (summary by Gail Timmerman-Vaughan) (7 hr 56 min)

Chapters

Introductory 9:56 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter I. My presentation and first day at the Chinese court 21:56 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter II. Personal appearance of Her Majesty -- A Chinese repast -- Boating 13:53 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter III. The palace of the Emperor's Father 10:20 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter IV. Her Majesty's throne-room 12:41 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter V. The young Empress and ladies of the court 12:28 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter VI. Continuation of the portrait 9:58 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter VII. Festivities at court 11:08 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter VIII. His Majesty the Emperor 14:05 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter IX. The Emperor's birthday 22:08 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter X. Peking -- the Sea Palace 20:39 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XI. Some characteristics of Her Majesty -- second visit to the Sea Pal… 16:59 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XII. Return to the Summer Palace 8:14 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XIII. The steam-launch -- semi-annual sacrifices to Confucius 8:55 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XIV. The palace eunuchs 9:49 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XV. Literary tastes and accomplishments of the Empress Dowager 18:39 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XVI. The Great Audience Hall 10:38 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XVII. The Summer Palace 9:54 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XVIII. Festival of the Harvest Moon 13:36 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XIX. A Garden Party 9:11 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XX. Beginning of a second portrait of the Empress Dowager 9:47 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXI. A European circus at the palace 11:22 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXII. Palace customs 14:01 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXIII. Her Majesty's anxiety -- her birthday 9:32 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXIV. The Winter Palace 16:57 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXV. Peking -- beginning the portrait for St. Louis 12:15 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXVI. Some social customs 17:09 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXVII. Present-giving 10:39 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXVIII. Some winter days at the palace 12:01 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXIX. Religious rites 12:36 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXX. Her Majesty the Empress Dowager 26:31 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXXI. Her Majesty the Empress Dowager (continued) 15:03 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXXII. The Chinese New Year 12:41 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXXIII. Continuation of the St. Louis portrait 10:38 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXXIV. Finishing and sending off the portrait 9:32 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan
Chapter XXXV. Return to the Summer Palace 11:07 Read by Gail Timmerman Vaughan

Reviews

Wonderful narration!


(5 stars)

Absolutely fantastic narration! Very soothing and informative.