VMPEA: Wang Lianming
Revisiting the Jesuit Gardens in Eighteenth-Century Beijing
Speaker: Wang Lianming (Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History, Heidelberg University)
Discussant: Yin Wu (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Art History)
In the early modern world, the Jesuit gardens arguably became a transcultural phenomenon mate-rializing the transfer of elite knowledge, culture, and ideas. Drawing on a variety of recently uncovered materials from Paris and St. Petersburg, this talk discusses the crucial role of the Beijing Jesuit gardens played in the early-modern dynamics of botanical and horticultural practices. This is achieved by examining their functions as walk-in spaces of transcultural experience, experi-mental spaces of artistic entanglements, and places of fruitful encounters of knowledge. These garden sites, as I will argue, were the missing link between European Renaissance culture and knowledge, Qing court art, and collecting practices of the European Jesuit patrons.
Wang Lianming is an Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History at Heidelberg University. His areas of research include early-modern global encounters of arts and culture and artistic practices and materiality related to transterritorial 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, led by the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max Planck Society. Wang has organized many 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). He was awarded the Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Prize by the Heidelberg University in 2018, and the Academy Prize by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2021.
Yin Wu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History. Her research focuses on the cross-cultural exchange of objects between China and the West at the Qianlong Emperor’s court in the 18th century, exploring how the Western objects were transformed into new visual and material forms and create new political and cultural meanings in the Qing empire.
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Image: The panoramic view of the Jesuit Beitang residence and its garden space, color on paper, ca. 1830/31. St. Petersburg, Kunstkamera – Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, inventory number 667-261.