The cultural and missionary work inaugurated by Matteo Ricci, SJ (1552-1610) in Ming China (1368-1644) offered the hope of a brand of intercultural dialogue founded on the belief of the universality of the human experience and possibility of mutual understanding between cultures.  In this spirit, the “Matteo Ricci Speaker Series," extending from 2014-2018, invites leading international scholars to speak on the subject of Chinese-Christian intercultural dialogue.  Our Speaker Series celebrates both the bicentenaries of the restoration of the Society of Jesus (1814) and the Foundation of Saint Louis University (1818).  

 Upcoming Speaker

Professor Kristina Kleutghen
Washington University in St. Louis

"Perspective and Perception: 

Jesuits, Artists, and Illusionistic Painting at the Chinese Court"

Friday, September 19, 2014
4:00 - 5:00 pm, with reception following 

In the Forbidden City and other palaces around Beijing, Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736-1795) surrounded himself with monumental paintings of architecture, gardens, people, and faraway places. The best artists of the imperial painting academy, including a number of European missionary painters, used Western perspectival illusionism to transform walls and ceilings with visually striking images that were also deeply meaningful to Qianlong. These unprecedented works not only offer new insights into late imperial China's most influential emperor, but also reflect one way in which Chinese art integrated and domesticated foreign ideas.

Kristina Kleutghen is a specialist in Chinese art, particularly of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). She received her Ph.D. in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University in 2010, and her research interests encompass the long Chinese eighteenth century, the imperial court, the global movement of early modern things, and artistic responses to foreign contact and ideas (including science and mathematics) from the West as well as from India and Japan. She also writes on Chinese contemporary art.

Her first book, Imperial Illusions: Crossing Pictorial Boundaries in the Chinese Palaces (forthcoming January 2015 with Washington University Press), rediscovers the monumental illusionistic paintings produced collaboratively by Chinese and European court painters for the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795) that are now hidden inside the Forbidden City.