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Church, A Sacred Event and the Visual Perspective of an Etic Viewer: an 18th century Western-Style Chinese Painting held in the Biliothèque nationale de France

Wang, Lianming

In: Face to Face: The transcendence of the arts in China and beyond (Historical Perspectives), 1 (2014), pp. 370-399. ISSN 9789898300492

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Abstract

This paper deals with an 18th century oil painting produced by non-court painter(s) using Western techniques that conveys an etic viewer’s (an outsider’s)perspective of the depicted events. The artwork portrays an unusually solemn Christian procession which took place in a courtyard garden of a church in Beijing. Through the examination of contemporary accounts of rituals practised at the French North Church Beitang in Beijing, and two recently discovered 19th century architectural drawings held by the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., this paper will begin with an iconographic analysis of the ritual depiction. Special attention is paid to the etic narration – the way in which the ritual event has been visually translated and re-constructed.Based on this discussion, I move to a stylistic analysis and reveal its European influences by comparing this painting with other contemporary or later narrative works by missionary court artists and their Chinese helpers, for instance the Wanshuyuan ciyan tu (Imperial Banquet in the Garden of Ten Thousand Trees, 1755). Finally, in the context of Qing court art productions,I analyse how Western pictorial narration influenced the traditional Chinese portrayal of ceremonial events.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Face to Face: The transcendence of the arts in China and beyond (Historical Perspectives)
Volume: 1
Publisher: Centro de Investigacao e Estudos em Belas-Artes
Place of Publication: Lissabon
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 07:30
Date: 2014
ISSN: 9789898300492
Page Range: pp. 370-399
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Institut für Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens
Subjects: 700 The arts
Controlled Keywords: Jesuiten , Peking , Malerei
Uncontrolled Keywords: Giuseppe Castiglione, Jesuit, Beitang, Wallpaper, documentary painting, 18th century
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