China and the West in the Art of the 19th Century: A Cultural and Historical Review of the Relations between Painting and Photography

Meccarelli, Marco, Foo, Yee-Wah and Flamminii, Antonella (2013) China and the West in the Art of the 19th Century: A Cultural and Historical Review of the Relations between Painting and Photography. Ming Qing Studies, 11 . pp. 118-160. ISSN 978-88-458-6635-5

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Item Type:Article
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The story of China from the late Qing (1644-1911) to the early years of the
Republic established in 1912 is one of Empire, wars within and without, great
social and economic shifts and deep cultural transformations, particularly in art,
culture and photography. A review of the relations between painting and
photography in China reveals as much about ancient China’s artistic expressions
as derived from the philosophical “glorification” of nature and harmony of the
human “spirit”1 as it does about the early beginnings of Sino-foreign crosscultural
contacts. This paper will show that by the time of the Republic two
artistic genres, the old and ancient art of traditional Chinese painting; and the
new, innovative technical art of photography pioneered a mutual
interrelationship between stylistic and compositional procedures - a progression
of transformations that from the start proved to be extremely lively and
challenging. The development of photography in China and its attendant
relations to the artistic foundations of both East and West, dates back, not just to
around the time of the opium wars of the mid-nineteenth century (wherein a
defeated China was forced to reckon with one hundred years of foreign
encroachment on Chinese soil), but even earlier, especially, with the opening up
in 1757 of the only port open to foreigners, the southern port city of Guangzhou
(Canton) a city that bore witness to the some of the earliest artistic cross-cultural
interactions, a ‘contaminatio’ between East and West. This paper begins with an
introduction to some of the early cultural contacts between East and West; then
it reflects upon the relationships that the West willingly established in China
after the invention of photography when Western artists came to work in the city
ports; and finally it looks at the cultural origins of Chinese painting, the discovery of photography in China, and evidence of cross-fertilization between
both artistic expressions.

Keywords:Chinese photography, Fu Bingchang, Foo Ping Sheung, bmjholiday
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V241 Chinese History
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:14450
Deposited On:07 Jul 2014 10:09

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