Lianming Wang, Ph.D.[at]

Lianming Wang is Assistant Professor at the Institute of East Asian Art History, Heidelberg University. He specializes in global Jesuit art and architecture, with a focus on early modern China. He is preparing his book manuscript Das Erbe der Gesellschaft Jesu: Architektur und transkulturelle Verflechtungsräume im Peking der Frühen Neuzeit (Universitätsverlag C. Winter Heidelberg, Spring 2019). He studied art history, classical archeology and Italian Philology in Shanghai, Padova and Würzburg and received his Ph.D. (2014) in East Asian Art History from Heidelberg University. Before joining the faculty in Heidelberg, he has taught at the Institute of East Asian Cultural Studies, University of Würzburg (2009-2011). He received research grants from Geschwister-Supp Stiftung, Heinz-Götze Stiftung, DAAD, and USF Ricci Institute, among others. He was involved in organizing many international workshops and conferences related to Sino-European exchanges, including “The Jesuit Legacies: Images, Visuality, and Cosmopolitanism in Qing China” (chief organizer; 2015) and “Reframing Chinese Objects: Practices of Collecting and Displaying in Europe and the Islamic World, 1400-1800” (co-organizer; 2018). Currently he is working on his habilitation project “Animal Encounters and Qing Political Narratives” dealing with the making and display of large-sized painting sets that connected to the Qing tributary animals.

Fig. 1: Giuseppe Castiglione’s (1688-1766) Paintings of Tributary Hounds displayed in the exhibition “Portrayals from a Brush Divine: A Special Exhibition on the Tricentennial of Giuseppe Castiglione's Arrival in China” (October 8 – December 31, 2015, National Palace Museum Taipei), 247.5 x 163.7 cm (left: Yargatu/ “Soft-brown Leopard”), 247.2 x 163 cm (right: Saksahatu/ “Magpie that soars in the sky”), color on silk, National Palace Museum, Taipei.
Fig. 2: Reconstruction of the “Hall of Spectacular Views among Curved Mountains” (Juan’a shengjing dian) with two large-sized affixed hangings on lateral walls, Jehol, built in the mid-18th century, in: Lianming Wang, “Europerie und Macht. Akteure und Publika der transkulturellen Bilderbauten aus der Regierungszeit des Kaisers Qianlong,” in: Matthias Weiß, Eva-Maria Troelenberg, Joachim Brand (eds.), Wechselblicke. Zwischen China und Europa 1669-1907, Berlin: Michael Imhof, 2017, 73.

Research Project

Animal Encounters in the Qing Court:
Pictorial Monuments and Political Narratives, 1740-1790

During the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735-1799), the Qing empire experienced a dramatic territorial expansion achieved by military actions and political alliances with ethnic tribes in the borderlands. My research project attempts to address the role that tribute animals played in the creation of the Qing political narrative and in strategies of nation building, by looking at the making of their commemorative portraits on a monumental scale. Particular focus will be given to the phenomena of multiplicity, or the intertwining of meanings, transmediality and the sheer size of these so-called “pictorial monuments” —which are large systems of images that were displayed in hybrid spaces of cultural and diplomatic encounters or spaces of political negotiation. Extremely pronounced is the propagandistic nature of these images, monumentalizing the formation of the new tribute system, and essentially new world order, established by the Qing empire.
These large-scale images — often equal to wall-sized affixed hangings — that include but are not limited to representations of: (A) auspicious animals, (B) the submission of politically and socially important animals, and (C) scenes of Manchu hunting practices, will be placed at the center of debate.
Engaging in focused discourse on the fundamental questions related to issues such as the origin, formation, and popularization of the “pictorial monuments” will provide new ways of reading this unique transcultural phenomenon.