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Qing (1644-1911) Documentary Paintings Revisited: The “Rise and Fall” of Officials’ Career Imagery (huanji tu)

Ya-Chen Ma , Professor, Institute of History, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

The sheer amount of so-called “documentary paintings” that employ Sino-Western pictorial techniques in Qing (1644-1911) court art is a puzzling phenomenon. While in recent years scholars begin to contextualize the production of some cases, few have speculations of such paintings as a whole. This presentation revisits this issue by tracing the history of a unique kind of paintings, officials’ career imagery (huanji tu), which does not appear in Chinese traditional accounts of paintings but can be found in many scholar-officials’ anthologies. I will first outline its popularity in and beyond Ming officials’ circle, Hung Taiji’s (1592-1643) unorthodox invention in early Qing, the Kangxi emperor’s (r. 1654-1722) selective appropriation, to the Qianlong emperor’s (r. 1736-1796) transformation, as well as its decline among High Qing officials and its revival in late Qing. I will then turn to discuss how the history of huanji tu contributes to a new understanding of documentary paintings as the Manchu construction of cultural hegemony.

Friday, April 18, 2014 | 11:30 am — 1:00 pm
Room 103

Department of Art and Art History
Center for East Asian Studies