PhD Student

PhD program:: XXXVIII

supervisor: Filippo Salviati
co-supervisor: Davor Antonucci

Research: Brushstrokes of Knowledge and Power: Kangxi’s Transformative Portraits, Cultural Enterprise, and Global Dialogue in the Eighteenth Century (tentative)

This research revolves around three specific portraits of Kangxi Emperor (1654–1722) attributed to the Italian artist Giovanni Gherardini (1655–1723), who was in service at the Qing court from 1699 to 1704. Among these portraits, two, executed on paper and silk, presently reside in the Palace Museum in Beijing. The third, rendered on canvas, was part of the Medici court’s collection during the reign of Cosimo III de’ Medici (1642–1723), the Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1709 and is currently housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Notably, these portraits signify a deviation from conventional imperial portrayals, as the earliest known instances of a Chinese emperor potentially painted by a foreign artist and through their incorporation of European techniques. Distinguished by their larger dimensions compared to extant Kangxi Emperor portraits, they bear significance beyond their aesthetic appeal. By employing iconological analysis and comparing them with traditional Chinese imperial portraits, while taking into account Kangxi’s contemporary cultural aspirations and visions, this research aims to illuminate how Kangxi created a unique cultural and artistic archetype for imperial portraiture. In doing so, he crafted his historical persona as an erudite and intellectual emperor of the Qing Empire. Additionally, by retracing the circulation of the portrait and the interaction between the Qing court and the Medici court, as well as Jesuit figures who play key roles as agents facilitating and advising international connections and potentially construct dialogues between China and Tuscany, this study will further delve into the dynamics of Sino-European interaction and unveil a hitherto obscured dimension of early modern diplomatic engagements.

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