Glass Exchange between Europe and China, 1550–1800: Diplomatic, Mercantile and Technological Interactions, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Glass Exchange between Europe and China, 1550–1800

Diplomatic, Mercantile and Technological Interactions, 1st Edition

By Emily Byrne Curtis


174 pages

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In this study, Emily Byrne Curtis explores as her subject lenses, spectacles, aventurine glass, and windows found in China from the sixteenth century. She traces their technological development back to the glassworks in Murano, Venice, and explores their significance in terms of Venice's commerce with China. Because glassware also figured among the gifts which three papal legates from the Vatican presented to the Kangxi and Yongzheng emperors, the author examines many documents from the archives in Rome and the Vatican; the study therefore touches, to an extent, on the history of the Catholic Church in China. Curtis also discusses in the volume some contemporary Chinese references and verses to European glassware, and in the case of enamel materials, she discloses the pronounced effect their use had upon the decor of Chinese porcelains.


'Emily Curtis's stimulating and informative monograph provides a fascinating anthology of cultural interactions over a number of centuries.' Deborah Howard, University of Cambridge, UK

'Emily Byrne Curtis has provided us with fascinating nuggets of information on glass and glassmaking in the Qing dynasty and a detailed study of the interaction between Chinese and European glassmakers.' Technology and Culture

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Wonder and desire: the glass was most beautiful; New notions of seeing: mirrors and lenses; Panes of glass: windows and paintings; Diplomatic overtures: The daren (great personage) from the Vatican; Glass: 'pieces as beautiful as our aventurine'; Cristalli: 4 cases of precious glass; 'White gold': a magical substance; Enamel materials: a technological transfer; Carrying treasure to China: the Albion; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Emily Byrne Curtis is an independent scholar and author, whose essays on Chinese glass have appeared in the Palace Museum Journal, Beijing; Arts Asiatiques, Paris; Journal of Glass Studies, Corning, NY; and Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, London. She is the author of Pure Brightness Shines Everywhere: The Glass of China (Ashgate, 2004).

About the Series

Transculturalisms, 1400-1700

This series presents studies of the early modern contacts and exchanges among the states, polities and entrepreneurial organizations of Europe; Asia, including the Levant and East India/Indies; Africa; and the Americas. Books investigate travellers, merchants and cultural inventors, including explorers, mapmakers, artists and writers, as they operated in political, mercantile, sexual and linguistic economies. We encourage authors to reflect on their own methodologies in relation to issues and theories relevant to the study of transculturism/translation and transnationalism. We are particularly interested in work on and from the perspective of the Asians, Africans, and Americans involved in these interactions, and on such topics as:

-Material exchanges, including textiles, paper and printing, and technologies of knowledge

-Movements of bodies: embassies, voyagers, piracy, enslavement

-Travel writing: its purposes, practices, forms and effects on writing in other genres

-Belief systems: religions, philosophies, sciences

-Translations: verbal, artistic, philosophical

-Forms of transnational violence and its representations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General