“A Complete Map of the World—The Eighteenth-century Convergence of China and Europe” Exhibition

Asia Society and Museum

poster for “A Complete Map of the World—The Eighteenth-century Convergence of China and Europe” Exhibition

This event has ended.

This small, focused exhibition uses one of the rare prints of Ma Junliang’s map of the world Jingban tianwen quantu as a starting point to consider the interaction between China and Europe during the eighteenth century. The map offers viewers a Chinese perspective about power and the nature of the world with China at the center. The exhibition also includes Chinese eighteenth-century artworks that appropriate and reinterpret European images and techniques.

The eighteenth century in Europe was a period of continued exploration and discovery. While European leaders including Louis XIV (personally reigned 1661–1715), Peter the Great (reigned 1682–1725), Catherine the Great (reigned 1762–96), and Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) expanded their empires, in China the Kangxi emperor (reigned 1662–1722), the Yongzhen emperor (reigned 1723–35), and the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736–95) brought the Qing dynasty to the pinnacle of its geographical expansion. In the eighteenth century, Qing domination included large portions of Central Asia and parts of the south, including Burma (Myanmar) and Annam (Vietnam).

European and Chinese engagement continued to increase after having already reached historic levels by the close of the sixteenth century thanks to exchanges between European Jesuits and China’s ruling elites. Geographic information gathered in the course of expansion and exploration, as well as mathematical, scientific, and medical research, was exchanged between east and west.

This interchange, combined with cross-cultural admiration, had considerable impact on the arts and crafts across the globe. For example, European craftsmen at Dresden working under enthusiastic support from Augustus the Strong (1670–1733) strove to discover China’s secret to producing true porcelain, finally succeeding by the first decade of the eighteenth century. Meanwhile, artisans working with Jesuits at the newly established Qing imperial glass workshops in Beijing strove to create the finest glass ever produced in China.

This exhibition is part of Asia Society Museum’s ongoing In Focus series, which invites viewers to take an in-depth look at a single, significant work of art.



from February 05, 2019 to May 05, 2019

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