Moving Things, Making Ideas: China-Inspired Objects and International Trade
February 23, 2024

China exported immense quantities of art across the globe in the early modern era, which made Chinese art highly influential in international design trends. The 2024 Templeton Colloquium in Art History will explore the influence of Chinese art and aesthetics on European and East Asian societies.  Chinese art brought cultures into contact with each other, created increased awareness of geographically distant societies, and shaped modern tastes in art.


Tamara Bentley is professor of art history at Colorado College. Her book on the 17th-century Chinese painter and printmaker Chen Hongshou– The Figurative Works of Chen Hongshou (1599 [sic]1652): Authentic Voices/Expanding Markets–was published by Ashgate in 2012. She was editor-in-chief and chapter author for Picturing Commerce in the East Asian Maritime Circuits, 15501800, published by Amsterdam University Press in 2019.

Presentation title: “Thinking Globally, 1660 to 1770: The Impact of Chinese Visual Commodities on English and French Material Culture”

Abstract: This talk builds upon and extends work in global history by Maxine Berg and Beverly Lemire. They argue that, in the 17th and 18th centuries, imported Indian printed cottons and Chinese silks and wallpaper, as well as Chinese and Japanese lacquerwares and porcelains, jump-started the English and French domestic manufacturing of textiles, japanned furniture, ceramics, and wallpaper as acts of import substitution. Berg in particular stresses the emergent consumer culture of 18th century England based on these manufactures. This talk first reviews the visual and economic impact in England of Chinese goods, and then extends our picture of this process by considering the East Asian supply side of these trade exchanges, including the flourishing and highly commodified cultures of 18th century China and Japan, rivaling England in their pervasiveness. The last section of the talk turns to the shifting discourses around “things Chinese” in the court cultures of Louis XIV and Louis XV. The French courtly statements underscore their power and sophistication, and are seemingly banked against alternate ideas about China utilized by Enlightenment philosophes for very different purposes.

Kristina Kleutghen is the David W. Mesker Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Washington University in Saint Louis. Her first book, Imperial Illusions: Crossing Pictorial Boundaries in the Qing Palaces, was recently published by University of Washington Press. Her second book, Lens onto the World: Optical Devices, Art, Science, and Society in China (under advance contract with University of Washington Press), will be the first to study the forgotten relationship between Chinese optical devices and art from the fifteenth through early-twentieth centuries.

Presentation title: “Mutual Influences: Painted Enamels on Kangxi’s Yixing Ware and Böttger Stoneware”

Abstract: Kleutghen will examine Kangxi’s experimental painted enamel Yixing ware in relation to the new technology of painted enamels at his court and compare it to Johann Friedrich Böttger enameled stoneware for Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, Germany, where European porcelain was first manufactured.

Katharine Burnett is professor of art history at the University of California, Davis. Her most recent book is Shaping Chinese Art History: Pang Yuanji and His Painting Collection (Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2020).

Presentation title: ”Art History without the Art: The Curious Case of Sino-Vietnamese Teapots before 1700.” 

Abstract: This presentation investigates the exchange of tea culture and teapots between China and Vietnam between 1300 to 1700, with an emphasis on the late Ming period. This is the time when steeped tea became the norm and teapots began to be a required form. Although it is well-known that China was trading tea and ceramics to other East Asian and European countries at this time, this project initiates the exploration of China’s cultural exchanges surrounding tea with its Southeast Asian neighbors starting with Vietnam. It aims to find out how Vietnam responded to this trade, especially through its own ceramic industry. Problematically, although Vietnam closely copied many important Chinese ceramic shapes and wares, examples of the teapot are curiously absent. At the same time as asking, Where are the Vietnamese teapots? this presentation also attempts to determine exactly what is a teapot (vs. a water or wine pot) in these early years, a task that turns out to be not as obvious as one might think. 

Organized and moderated by Michael Yonan, Templeton Professor of European Art, 1600–1830, UC Davis, this event is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History and the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.

The colloquium is made possible through an endowment established by Alan Templeton (B.A., art history and psychology, ‘82).

Media contact: Michael Yonan, professor of art history, UC Davis

Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, Old Davis Road, Davis, California

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