Tuesday, May 9, 2023
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Live via Zoom
Register for Zoom Webinar link here
View of Rehe, by the Qing court painter Leng Mei, has long remained something of an enigma：bearing only the artist’s signature and the briefest of mentions in an imperial painting catalogue compiled roughly forty years after its execution, little, if anything, about the work’s origins is clear. It clearly depicts the Kangxi emperor’s new summer palace in Rehe, north of the Great Wall in the heart of Inner Mongolia, but beyond this… When it was painted, what precisely it shows, what its purpose was, even its proper title—all these questions have vexed art historians.
This paper, drawn from Prof. Whiteman’s recent book Where Dragon Veins Meet：The Kangxi Emperor’s Mountain Estate in Poetry and Print, offers a fresh approach to Leng Mei’s monumental landscape, arguing that the most productive questions we may ask engage not what the artist depicts, but how he depicts it. In a multi-faceted reading that ranges from classical Chinese painting to the breadth of early modern Eurasia and novel digital methods, the talk places the work at the heart of a transculturally connected history of visual production in the Qing court linking landscape and pictorial space with territory and empire.
Dr. Stephen Whiteman, Reader in the Art and Architecture of China at The Courtauld, an internationally renowned centre for the teaching and research of art history and a major public gallery. Stephen Whiteman’s research and teaching focuses on the visual and spatial cultures of early modern China in their global contexts. He is author and editor of eight volumes on art, architecture, and landscape in early modern and modern China and Southeast Asia, including the multiple-award winning, Where Dragon Veins Meet：The Kangxi Emperor and His Estate at Rehe （Washington UP, 2020）. His most recent book, Landscape and Authority in the Early Modern World （Penn UP, 2023）, a collection of ten essays forthcoming from Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture, argues the potential of connective histories of landscape for expanding our understanding of early modern space beyond nationally or culturally constrained discourses.