4A Lab Seminar
Lianming Wang: The Last Gift from Beijing: the Jesuit Gardens and the Sino-European Botanical Exchanges
Vegetal details, in: Anonymous, A solemn procession in the front yard of the Beitang church in Beijing, color on silk, 185.7 x 130 cm, 1786 (?). Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Jesuit gardens arguably constitute a transcultural phenomenon of early modernity: with their forms and aesthetics, they materialized the transregional transfer of European elite knowledge and culture in the early modern world. This talk discusses the role of Beijing Jesuit gardens in early-modern global dynamics connected to botanical and horticultural practices. Drawing on a monumental Chinese painting (now at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France) displaying a wide variety of plants, the author examines the function of the gardens as walk-in spaces for transcultural experience, as well as experimental platforms for artistic and botanical entanglements between European religious knowledge production and Qing court art. It will also be argued that these garden sites bear important witness to the collecting practices of European Jesuit patrons in the early modern period.
Lianming Wang is Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History at Heidelberg University. His areas of research include global encounters of arts and culture in early modernity and the artistic practices and materiality associated with trans-territorial animals. Wang has taught at the University of Würzburg and was a Postdoc Fellow (2018–19) of the research group “Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices” at the Berlin-based Forum Transregional Studies (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Society). Wang has organized workshops and conferences related to Sino-European exchanges, including The Jesuit Legacies: Images, Visuality, and Cosmopolitanism in Qing China (chief organizer, 2015), Reframing Chinese Objects: Practices of Collecting and Displaying in Europe and the Islamic World, 1400-1800 (co-organizer, 2018), and Before the Silk Road: Eurasian Interactions in the First Millennium BC (chief-organizer, 2019).
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