In 1714, Castiglione was sent to China for missionary work and by 1715 had arrived at Peking. He came to the attention of the court for his skill in painting, serving the K’ang-hsi, Yung-cheng, and Qianlong Emperors as an artist for up to fifty-one years. At the Qing court, Castiglione devoted himself to harmonizing Western painting techniques with Chinese styles, subjects, and materials. In addition to providing instruction in oil painting, he also took part in the architectural design of the European-style buildings at the imperial Yüan-ming Garden.
Castiglione, as a pictorial narrator chose to show a sort of continuity of style from his Italian education to the adopted taste and tradition of painting in China creating a new style that combined the new elements with his Western training in art. His paintings were done with Chinese materials but often incorporate Western techniques of shading and atmospheric perspective, imparting a sense of realism to the native themes. He showed great ability to syncretism and intercultural mediation appearing to us as a very modern artist able to be influenced also by the cultures more distant from his original one.
The masterpieces of Castiglione are jealously guarded in the museums of the imperial palace in Taipei and Beijing.