Ōki Yasushi Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo
It is possible that there is a story behind any image, which is also the case for Suzhou prints. For example, peaches and pomegranates are symbols of an abundance of children, and images that contain them also express that desire. Portraits of Guan Yu portray him as a deity, but surely, they are also intended to remind viewers of the stories of Guan Yu from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. There are also stories behind images of historical figures and events, such as found in “The Importance of Raising Children in a Good Environment”. Here, however, I would like to consider Suzhou prints that are more directly associated with literary tales from novels and the Chinese opera. Some of these prints illustrate highlights of the tales with individual scenes, while others link multiple scenes together through the imagery. A considerable number of scenes are also recreated by figures on stage wearing costumes. Why were these pictures of dramatic plays created, and what kind of people were they made for? When it comes to the relationship between novels, Chinese opera, and prints, the question of prints made as illustrations for books is often considered, but here I would like to think about the meaning behind the existence of the great many single-sheet prints that remain with us today.
The subject of this lecture is twenty-eight sheets of Chinese woodcuts in Leykam Room in Palace Museum Graz, Austria. Seven topics constituted those prints in which manufacturing technique and visual effect were both spectacular. Facial expression, hairstyle, and costume, the feature of figures in the woodcuts were related closely with popular images in Early Qing society. And what was more, western artistic elements, for example, linear perspective, chiaroscuro, and hatching, were widely utilized in those woodcuts, that were also distinctive characteristic of Gusu prints in the 18th century. Expression of light shade and three-dimensional similarly appeared in earlier court arts such as copperplate engraving, painting, and architectural ornament which originated from European missionaries. Highly possibly the woodcuts in Leykam Room were produced in Suzhou in the first half of 18th century. Pursuit of auspiciousness and literati taste were intentionally highlighted and thus fitted consumers. With developing world trade line, the 18th century was the time of Rococo in Europe, exchanging of idea, technique and material. So-called “Chinoiserie” was one of the most frequent element in European culture from the 17th to the 18th century, including diverse material forms in which Chinese prints has the characteristics of materiality and visuality.
With the development of maritime trade between East and West, a wide range of luxury commodities from China arrived to European market. Among them, although not in huge numbers, were single sheet woodblock prints crafted in Suzhou in the first half of the 18th century. Whether or not they deserved to be seen as ‘luxurious’ was a matter of cultural appropriation; at the time Europeans considered them as such. A diversity of Suzhou prints can be seen in European collections even now, and they increasingly attract specialists’ attention. My presentation will introduce some previously recounted, as well as hitherto unknown palaces in Central Europe where Suzhou prints were used for interior decorations, often as wallpapers. Employing selected examples, I shall describe how local designers dealt with the challenges resuming from the uncommonly thin paper, or the unsuitably small format of the prints. The changing fashion of interior design gradually opened new fanciful ways of how to incorporate the ‘exotic‘ components into a rococo room, and indeed, make them one part of rococo features. The singular trace of Suzhou graphic art in European history ended after 1757, as a consequence of the newly introduced Cantonese system.
Exploring the Jesuit Role in Early Qing SuzhouPrints
Anita Xiaoming WANG Birmingham City University
Around 1700, Suzhou woodblock prints appeared with a clear Europeaninfluence.They became popular Chinese products in Europe and Japan. However, they were only produced for a short period of time, roughly from the 1700s to 1760s, and their emergence and disappearance was related to Catholicism in China. As already note, certain Suzhou prints made use of European pictorial techniques, most notably linear perspective, shading, and hatching. A number of Suzhou prints now in Japanese collections feature all of these techniques, some of which bear inscriptions which point directly to their European sources of influence. There has been debate about how these influences came to be in these prints. I accept that the appropriation and transfer of European pictorial techniques into eighteenth century Suzhou printmaking most likely came about through multiple means. I argue however that the Jesuits were the primary source of influence with respect to the introduction of European pictorial techniques. There are documentary records indicating that Jesuits had connections with, and in some cases friendships with the earliest known Suzhou printmakers to use linear perspective and other European pictorial techniques. The presentation will discuss how appearance of linear perspective and other western artistic techniques in Suzhou printmaking was closely related to the presence of the Jesuits in China and analyse the possible impact on the later decline in the use of European pictorial techniques in prints in the mid-eighteenth century.
Technique as a Cultural Form: Making “Xiyang” in Suzhou Prints
Yu-chih LAI Academia Sinica
The European influence on Suzhou prints is an indisputable and wellrecognized phenomenon. But meanings of “European-ness” and how hey along with those of “Xiyang” or “Taixi” (both terms referring to the West) style were perceived, selected, framed, reconstructed, and represented remain up for debate. Immediate answers to this seemingly self-evident question include the application of a linear perspective, use of shadowing and modeling, etc., and while these answers hold truth, one should not overlook the complex trans-culturation processes between Europe and China. The present paper thus takes Suzhou prints with inscriptions indicating their direct imitation or emulation of a so-called European style, such as “in imitation of the brushwork of Taixi”, “in imitation of the tone of Xiyang”, etc., as a starting point to analyze which characteristics of European-ness were defined and framed within the prints. In addition, how they differed from paintings in the European-Chinese eclectic style produced by the court of the time, another important center of transmitted European visual culture, is expounded. This paper then ultimately argues that it is not merely the manifestation of new visual effects, but the new techniques employed in “making,” that denote the desired foreign-ness in the prints, which is remarkably different from the case of painting which stands as another important medium that actively explores European aspirations.
Posters from the Republic of China as the Descendants of Chinese Prints — Centering on Succession and Changes in Tradition
Tajima Natsuko Ome Municipal Museum of Art
The history of manufacturing modern, multi-color lithograph posters on Western-style paper began in China at the end of the Qing Dynasty, as they were used by foreign-owned enterprises that were expanding into Hong Kong and Shanghai at the time. In the posters of these early foreign companies, it was common to use themes that were popular in Chinese prints, just as they were in the past. However, entering the period of the Republic of China (1912–1949) as The development of national capital in the country, contemporary subjects are favored, particularly those depicting women in cutting-edge fashion with modern hairstyles. Entering the 1930s, the increase in nationalist movements had an influence on poster design. In later times, posters depicting traditional themes and customs that overlap with Chinese prints were frequently made, including those made to commemorate the ascension of the emperor of occupied Manchuria, Puyi (1906–1967). In addition, as traditional Chinese prints circulated outside of China, the images they depicted promoted an understanding of “China” in Western countries, becoming models for occasions when there was a desire to express something with a Chinese atmosphere.
Investigating the Origins of Eighteenth-century “Still-life” Prints in Painting
Anne FARRER Sotheby’s Institute of Art – London, Center for Chinese Visual Studies, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, and Muban Educational Trust
This lecture will focus on four “still-life” prints from the Ding family workshops in Suzhou, now in the British Museum collection (1906,1128,0.22–25). These prints belong to a group of 29 single-sheet prints, referred to as the “Ding prints”, acquired by Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753) in the second quarter of the eighteenth century. Recent research has established that these single-sheet prints were made in the early Qianlong period (1736–50), rather than in the Kangxi period (1661–1722) as had previously been assumed. The images in these four prints include flowers, cloisonné vessels in archaistic form, scrolls, books, ceramics and fruits, which scholars have categorised as “stilllife” compositions following European nomenclature. This lecture will investigate the compositions in these prints from a number of perspectives: (1) their relationship to similar images in single-sheet prints of the Kangxi period; (2) their connection with “functional” paintings made to mark seasonal festivities and often used as personal gifts; and (3) connections with images of European “still-life” genre introduced to China in the early Qing dynasty. It is intended that this study will also demonstrate how the image groupings, modes of representation, and meaning embodied in the compositions changed through the late Ming to mid Qing dynasties.
左：《姑蘇閶門図》清時代、雍正12年／1734年、紙本、木版、濃淡墨摺筆彩、海の見える杜美術館。The Changmen Gate of Suzhou,1732, Umi-Mori Art Museum,Hiroshima. 右：《三百六十行図》清時代、雍正12年／1734年、紙本、木版、濃淡墨摺筆彩、海の見える杜美術館。All Walks of Life, 1732, Umi-Mori Art Museum,Hiroshima.