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Kristina Renee Kleutghen
Washington University (St. Louis, MO 63130-4899)
The Study of Vision: Cross-Cultural Illusionistic Painting in Eighteenth-Century China

Under the patronage of China’s powerful Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795), Chinese and European Jesuit court artists used Western illusionistic painting techniques to create life-size "scenic illusion paintings." These monumental works were seamlessly integrated into various imperial spaces, creating a seemingly permeable threshold between reality and illusion. The techniques of European trompe-l’oeil illusionism were found at the very heart of the Chinese empire, but the origins of scenic illusions at the Chinese court remain murky. In "The Study of Vision: Cross-Cultural Illusionistic Painting in Eighteenth-Century China,"I seek the missing link in their history with the first full translation of the Chinese text The Study of Vision (1729 and 1735). Written by court retainer Nian Xiyao (1671-1738), this illustrated manual articulated the principles and effects of scenic illusion painting well before its heyday. [Edited by Staff]

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2011 – 8/31/2011