This is an in-depth study of the intellectual, technical, and artistic encounters between Europe and China in the late eighteenth century, focusing on the purposeful acquisition of information and images that characterized a direct engagement with the idea of "China."
The central figure in this story is Henri-Léonard Bertin (1720–1792), who served as a minister of state under Louis XV and, briefly, Louis XVI. Both his official position and personal passion for all things Chinese placed him at the center of intersecting networks of like-minded individuals who shared his ideal vision of China as a nation from which France had much to learn. John Finlay examines a fascinating episode in the rich history of cross-cultural exchange between China and Europe in the early modern period, and this book will be an important and timely contribution to a very current discussion about Sino-French cultural relations.
This book will be of interest to scholars in art history, visual culture, European and Chinese history.
Table of Contents
1. Ko And Yang And The Mission Française De Pékin
2. The Landscape Of Fact And Fantasy
3. Constructing An Authentic China
4. The Confucian Scholar Of Enlightenment France
John Finlay is an associate scholar with the Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine (CECMC).
"This meticulously researched and fascinating history of Bertin's 'insatiable appetite for knowledge of China' is the first monograph devoted to Bertin's collecting, correspondence and other projects."
--The Art Newspaper
"Well-structured and sharply argued, Finlay's penetrating book greatly deepends our understanding of the 18th-century Sino-European exchanges, including the Jesuit agency, interpersonal networks, and intricate relations between Chinese sources and European reproductions."
"Finlay’s book is one of those fine books that provide a reader with new insights and at the same time leave room for further questions to be pursued."
--Journal of Asian History
"John Finlay has produced a book whose breadth and scope of subject matter is impressive. It successfully establishes a history of artistic exchange between France and China in the modern era."
--China Art Research Network (CARN) Newsletter