Panel: Image, Artifact and Visual Object: New Perspectives on Jesuit Artistic Legacy in China, 1600-1800


Raum: Kath Theol II, Hochparterre, Johannisstraße 8-10
Tag Zeit    
Fr 09:00-09:30 Golvers European ‘Imagines’ in the China Mission: An Overview from Western Sources
Fr 09:30-10:00 Qu Two Chinese Images of “Salvator Mundi” in the Seventeenth Century
Fr 10:00-10:30 Grasskamp Objects of Appropriation: The Visual and Material Re-Framing of Artifacts in Sino-European Exchange
Fr 10:30-11:00 Pause  
Fr 11:00-11:30 Wang, L. Picturing the Feast of Sacred Heart: An Eighteenth Century Chinese Church Painting in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Fr 11:30-12:00 Wang, C. Castiglione or Not ?- Reconsidering the Painting Machang Defeating the Enemy in Berlin Collection and Its related Issues


Lianming Wang

Beschreibung des Panels:

This panel explores the visual products created by Jesuit artists stationed in China, including conventional genres like drawings, prints and book illustrations as well as those re-framed “visual objects”. Moreover, the specific ways in which the Western images and visual vocabularies are translated by appropriating Chinese rhetorics will also be investigated. 


Interdisziplinär (Sinologie; Kunst und Archäologie)

Abstracts der Vorträge:

Golvers, Noël: European ‘Imagines’ in the China Mission: An Overview from Western Sources

In this contribution, I will present an overview of the evidence, from different (mainly) Western sources on the acquisition, the production  and the spread of Western ‘imagines’ – of different kind – through China, especially from Macau and Peking, and mainly in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Also will be discussed the different forms (prints; etchings, ‘perspective paintings’) and functions (preaching and evangelization; introductory or representation presents, decoration of the residences), topics (Christian and profane, the latter being portraits, political scenes, land- and cityscapes, gardens, the ‘Versailles and Marly”-theme, etc.), but also book illustrations (platebooks of different kind [anatomical; botanical, architectural, etc.), and some particular cases mentioned in the sources. Also some words on the identity of some ‘painters’ (Western and Chinese) will be added.

Grasskamp, Anna K.: Objects of Appropriation: The Visual and Material Re-Framing of Artifacts in Sino-European Exchange

Put in metal mounts on behalf of early modern Kunstkammer collectors Chinese porcelain vessels displayed traces of material as well as cultural appropriation. European silver and gold mountings re-shaped the Asian ceramics, framed and Europeanized them, mediating between their foreign materiality and the frameworks of locally defined display systems. Equally, European objects could be re-shaped and re-framed within the context of Chinese collecting. A famous example are the astronomical instruments made for emperor Kangxi (r. 1662-1722) by Flemish Jesuit Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688). Sinicized through sculpted stands (zuo) and semi-architectural platforms (tai), the European scientific instruments staged the foreign at the center of the cosmologically defined Chinese world, the “spiritual” platform lingtai, the observatory of the Son of Heaven. Strategies of visual appropriation of the foreign object can further be analyzed in Sino-European print culture. This includes imagery produced in cooperation between Jesuit missionaries and Chinese scholars and artisans, but also representations that re-stage fragments of Chinese visual and material culture in Europeanized pictorial spaces, as in the publications of Jesuit Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680). This paper will explore strategies of material and visual appropriation in early modern Sino-European exchange. Its focus on object display in three-dimensional space and two-dimensional imagery will add to our understanding of the culturally defined dynamics of artistic appropriation and shed light on the relationship between Jesuit agency and material culture.

Qu, Yi: Two Chinese Images of “Salvator Mundi” in the Seventeenth Century

At the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and nearly a hundred years after the beginning of Jesuit missionary activity in China (since 1549), the first two books about the life of Jesus with illustrations were published by the Jesuits, namely Tianzhu sheng jiang Chuxiang Jingjie (Explanation of the Canonical Book about the Lord of Heaven’s Incarnation with Selected Images) 1637 and Jincheng Shuxiang (Images in a Booklet Presented to His Majesty) 1640. Before the narrative representations of the life of Jesus each book has at its beginning an image of “Salvator Mundi”, namely Tianzhu jiang sheng sheng xiang (Holy Image of the Incarnation of the Lord of Heaven) and Tiandi zonggui yizhu xiang (Image of one Lord, to whom Heaven and Earth belong). In contrast to the early artistic representations and written documents about “tianzhu” (Lord of Heaven), which are invariably portrayed as Madonna with Jesus Child, these two prints provide the earliest extant Chinese images of “Salvator Mundi”. Compiling with their accompanying explanations the concept of God as creator in the Old Testament and the incarnation of God in Christ in the New Testament was presented to the Chinese in the first half of the 17th century. Tracing the Chinese art historical convention and comparing the Chinese philosophical and religious context, the images and the Chinese translations and explanation of the Christian terminologies confirm that the Jesuits were well aware of Chinese art historical conventions as well as philosophical and religious thoughts. Basing on the unadulterated Christian dogma on the one hand and adapting to the Chinese understanding on the other side they introduced the image of God to the Chinese authentically and completely, which will be concluded in this paper.

Wang, Ching-Ling: Castiglione or Not?- Reconsidering the Painting Machang Defeating the Enemy in Berlin Collection and Related Issues

In the collection of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is a hand scroll painting Machang Defeating the Enemy. The painting depicts an 18th century Manchu general, Machang defeating his enemies in a battle against the Dzungar tribes of Central Asia. For a long time this painting was not considered to be an original work of Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766) but rather a workshop piece, since there is another identical work in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei. This paper first deals with the authorship of the painting, I will use archival material to prove that the painting in Berlin collection is also an original work painted by Giuseppe Castiglione, and then discuss context of producing the multiple versions of paintings in the Qing court. Besides repositioning the authorship of this painting, I will also put this painting back to its original context together with the generals’ portraits and engraving prints depicting the battles of China against the Central Asian tribes, to discuss how the battle pictures were produced, general portraits (which artistically were influenced by the impact of European oil painting and engraving) and the political dynamics and power structure between China and tribes of Central Asia.

Wang, Lianming: Picturing the Feast of Sacred Heart: An Eighteenth Century Chinese Church Painting in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

This paper deals with an eighteenth century oil painting, produced with Western techniques and perspective by a ‘non-court painter’. It portrays an unusually solemn Christian procession taking place in front of a church in a walled Chinese courtyard garden. Through the examination of contemporary accounts of rituals practiced in the French North Church (Beitang) in Beijing, and two newly discovered nineteenth century church drawings held by the Library of Congress, Washington D.C., this paper concentrates on an iconographic analysis of the depiction of these rituals. Special attention is paid to the ‘etic’ (outsider’s) narration – the way in which the ritual event has been visually translated and constructed. Based on this discussion, I will move to a stylistic analysis and demonstrate various indicators of European influences found in the painting via a comparison of other contemporary or later narrative works done by Jesuit court artists and their Chinese helpers, such as the Imperial Banquet in the Garden of Ten Thousand Trees (Wanshuyuan ciyan tu) (1755). In the context of Qing court art productions, I will analyze how Western pictorial narration influenced traditional Chinese ways of portraying ceremonial events.