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Past event - Exhibition

Silk and Cannons

FRANCE – CHINA (1700/1860)

26 June to 07 November 2010

In October 1700, the Amphitrite, the first French ship to trade with China, returned to Nantes, a major colonial trade port, where it sold its cargo of tea, silk, porcelain, mother-of-pearl, lacquered panels… This first arrival of objects and products generated a veritable fascination for Chinese culture. The Opium Wars of the 19th century, culminating in the destruction of the Sum­mer Palace in Beijing in 1860, tipped the economic balance of power to the benefit of the Europeans and contributed to the decline of the Middle Kingdom.

The exhibit Silk and Cannons sheds light on Sino-French relations between 1700 and 1860, and explores the changing attitudes towards the Far East, which in turn provoked fascination and rejection, through prestigious objects and documents on loan from ma­jor museums including the Guimet Museum, a partner in the project.


This exhibition was recognized as being of national importance by the Ministry of Culture and Communication/Di­rection des patrimoines/Service des musées de France. As such, it received financial support from the French State.


General curator: Bertrand Guillet - Chief Curator of Heritage, assistant director of the Castle of the Dukes of Brit­tany – Nantes History Museum, Alain Croix – Professor Emeritus of Modern History, Marie-Catherine Rey - Chief Curator at the Guimet Museum, Jean-Paul Desroches - General curator and Head of the China Department at the Guimet Mu­seum

Scénography: Pascal Payeur - Atelier de scénographie Pascal Payeur, Atelier bis, Paris

Graphic design: Pierre Milville

Poster exhibition "Silk and Cannons"
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