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China in the Frame: Pots in Paintings, Paintings of Pots and Paintings on Pots

Students of China’s ceramics have taken to mining the archive of paintings for evidence and insights about their subject, not just among collected works but equally fruitfully among vernacular images found in tombs. This approach through visual culture is proving useful, despite the common problems with authorship and dating among scrolls and pictures handed down. Valuable evidence for the existence and uses of blue-and-white porcelain, for instance, appears in tomb murals dateable to the later Yuan period in the mid-fourteenth century. By way of a critical appraisal of the practice, this lecture poses some broad-brush questions about how we might imagine the relationship between ceramics and paintings in China over the last two millennia. When and how do painters start taking an interest in ceramics, whether as sumptuous objects in a picture setting, as subjects portrayed or otherwise? When and how do potters incorporate aspects of the painting tradition and the picturesque into their decorative repertoires and schemes?

The is the annual Lightfoot Memorial Lecture on Paintings

Refreshments are sponsorsed by Woolley & Wallis


 Image: Leaf 2 from Min Qiji’s Romance of the Western Wing (1640), Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne


  • Shane McCausland
    Shane McCausland
    Director of Research, School of Arts

    Shane McCausland is Percival David Professor of the History of Art in the Department of History of Art & Archaeology, and from 2018-22 was Head of the School of Arts at SOAS University of London. He read Oriental Studies (Chinese) at Cambridge University and received his PhD in Art History with East Asian Studies from Princeton University in 2000. He has curated exhibitions in China, Europe and the USA and published widely on Chinese and East Asian arts, from the Admonitions scroll to contemporary abstraction. His The Mongol Century: Visual Cultures of Yuan China, 1271-1368 (Reaktion, 2015) has recently been published in Chinese as Menggu Shiji (Sanlian, 2023). His new book, published in December 2023, is The Art of the Chinese Picture-Scroll (Reaktion/Chicago). He is currently working on an exhibition about the arts of the Mongol world across Eurasia (c. 1206-c. 1368) and their legacy.

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