Colloque : “The Inexplicable and the Unfathomable : China and Britain, 1600–1900”.

Atelier de Philippe Behagle, La collation, 1690 - 1732, laine et soie, 324 x 384 cm, Los Angeles, Getty Museum.

Atelier de Philippe Behagle, La collation, 1690 – 1732, laine et soie, 324 x 384 cm, Los Angeles, Getty Museum.

Type : colloque.
Date de la manifestation : 11 et 12 novembre 2016.
Lieu : The Courtauld Institute of Art, Londres.

The “Chinese character seems at present inexplicable,” observed Lord Macartney during his celebrated embassy to China in the 1790s, while the Chinese themselves at this time often described “western ocean barbarians” as “unfathomable.” The failure of Macartney’s embassy is well known, not least the Emperor Qianlong’s dismissive comment that “we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.”

A sense of bafflement might therefore overwhelm the present-day visitor to the Forbidden City, on encountering its glorious array of English clocks, many imported during Qianlong’s reign. The present conference will consider some of the endless misunderstandings and deliberate deceptions that characterised relations between Britain and China in the four centuries under review, in fields as varied as religion and art, and commerce and literature. It will also explore, however, the burgeoning range of contacts between the two countries, and the increased mutual understanding achieved by two cultures separated by “the confines of many seas.”

Advance booking required: £16 general admission / £11 students and concessions.

Sous la direction de :
David Park, The Courtauld Institute of Art.
Lars Tharp, Ceramics Historian, Curator and Broadcaster.
Frances Wood, Former Curator of Chinese Collections, The British Library.

Programme :

Vendredi 11 novembre

17.30 Registration.

18.00 Keynote Address
• Donald S. Lopez (University of Michigan), Britain and Buddhism: George Bogle in Tibet, 1774–75.

19.15 Reception.

Samedi 12 novembre

9.45 Registration.

10.15 Session 1 – Chair: Roderick Whitfield.
• Greg Clingham (Bucknell University, PA), Cosmology and Commerce on Lord Macartney’s Embassy to China, 1792–94.
• Catherine Pagani (University of Alabama), Elaborate Clocks and Sino-British Encounters in the Eighteenth Century.

11.25 Tea and coffee.

11.55 Session 2 – Chair: David Park.
• Tang Hui (University of Warwick), ‘The Finest of Earth’: Selling Porcelain in Eighteenth-Century Canton.
• Lars Tharp, China on a Plate: Images from Hogarth to Whistler.

13.00 Lunch break.

14.30 Session 3 – Chair: Frances Wood.
• Jessica Harrison-Hall (The British Museum), Collecting Chinese Art at the British Museum, 1760–1860.
• Edward Weech and Nancy Charley (Royal Asiatic Society), The Thomas Manning Archive and Prospects for a New Perspective on British Intellectual Engagement with China in the Early 1800s.

15.45 Tea and coffee.

16.45 Session 4 – Chair: Lars Tharp.
• Elizabeth Chang (University of Missouri), Writing Personhood from the Frontier of Western China.
• Frances Wood, The View from the Other Side: China’s Reactions to the West.

17.45 Concluding remarks.

Citer ce billet
Maxime Georges Métraux (2016, 8 novembre). Colloque : “The Inexplicable and the Unfathomable : China and Britain, 1600–1900”. Groupe de Recherche en Histoire de l'Art Moderne. Consulté le 15 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Maxime Georges Métraux

Doctorant en Histoire de l'art moderne (Université Paris IV –Sorbonne, Centre André Chastel – UMR 8150). Expert pour la galerie Hubert Duchemin et chargé d’enseignement à l'Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée. Commissaire scientifique de l’exposition "Chic Emprise : Cultures, usages et sociabilités du tabac du XVIe au XVIIIe siècle" (22 juin - 23 septembre 2019) au musée du Nouveau Monde de La Rochelle.

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