Past Events

Seventeenth-Century Anglo-Chinese Artistic Interchange

ECRN Events – Professor Nicholas Temple, Dr James Lin, Dr Yue Zhuang

  • 23 February 2023
  • 2:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Paul Mellon Centre

This event has been organised by the Early Career Researchers Network (ECRN) and is for anyone to attend. You can find out more about the ECRN network here.

During the seventeenth century, imitating Chinese art evolved into a widespread yet controversial artistic practice exhibiting both awe and dismay. Similar to European Chinoiseries, Britain formulated an Anglo-Chinese style that copied Chinese models yet adhered to British fashions affecting pottery, painting, sculpture, architecture, ornamental patterns, furniture design and garden design. Formidable architects, such as William Chambers (1723–96), studied Chinese architecture before Classical styles leading to multiple publications including, Dissertation on Oriental Gardening (1772). Such Anglo-Chinese artistic practices have historically been scrutinised from British perspectives.

This roundtable discussion seeks to unveil the rarely acknowledged importance of Chinese precedents for creating British art that was adjusted to occidental taste and vice versa. The session invites opinions on an array of approaches to Anglo-Chinese artistic interchange focusing on visual and material cultures, cultural heritage and art, cultural politics, as well as opportunities for research and funding in this area.

About the speakers

  • Nicholas Temple is senior professor of architectural history and Director of the Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies (CUBE) at London Metropolitan University. A graduate of Cambridge University (Magdalene College), he previously served as Head of the School of Architecture at the University of Lincoln and as an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania where he taught on the PhD programme. Nicholas Temple was a Rome Scholar in Architecture at the British School at Rome and a Paul Mellon Rome Fellow, and has collaborated on research projects on the history and theory of architecture and urbanism in Europe and China. His most recent research is a British Academy-funded project with Professor Cecilia Panti on Lorenzo Ghiberti's Third Commentary. He was shortlisted for the International CICA Bruno Zevi Book Award in 2014 for his book Renovatio Urbis: Architecture, Urbanism and Ceremony in the Rome of Julius II (Routledge, 2011), and was nominated for the Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion 2020 for his work Architecture and the Language Debate: Artistic and Linguistic Exchanges in Early Modern Italy (Routledge, 2020) and the Colvin Prize 2020 for The Routledge Handbook on the Reception of Classical Architecture (Routledge, 2019), edited by Nicholas Temple, Andrzej Piotrowski and Juan Manuel Heredia. He is chief editor of the Routledge Research in Architectural History series and co-editor of the Journal of Architecture.

  • James C.S. Lin is responsible for the Chinese art collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum. He obtained a master’s degree and a PhD in Chinese art history at the University of Oxford and then worked as a research assistant in the Ashmolean Museum between 2000 and 2002. He was employed as a special assistant at the British Museum, helping to set up the Selwyn and Ellie Alleyne Gallery of Chinese Jade between June and November 2002. He then returned to Oxford as the first Christensen Fellow in Chinese Painting at the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Chinese Painting Gallery at the Ashmolean Museum before taking the position of Assistant Keeper of Applied Arts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2004.

  • Yue Zhuang is senior lecturer in Chinese, art history and visual culture, and Director of the Global China Centre at the University of Exeter. She specialises in the landscape art history of China and Britain as well as in the cross-cultural contacts between China and Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She has received grants and fellowships for her research from institutions such as the Swiss National Science Foundation, EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and the Leverhulme Trust. Her recent publications include The Hermeneutical Tradition of Chinese Gardens (2015) (in Chinese), Entangled Landscapes: Early Modern China and Europe (2017) and several articles on Sir William Chambers’ and Sir William Temple’s reception of China and Chinese gardens.