Travel, Collecting, and Museums of Asian Art in Nineteenth-Century Paris: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Travel, Collecting, and Museums of Asian Art in Nineteenth-Century Paris

1st Edition

By Ting Chang


210 pages

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Travel, Collecting, and Museums of Asian Art in Nineteenth-Century Paris examines a history of contact between modern Europe and East Asia through three collectors: Henri Cernuschi, Emile Guimet, and Edmond de Goncourt. Drawing on a wealth of material including European travelogues of the East and Asian reports of the West, Ting Chang explores the politics of mobility and cross-cultural encounter in the nineteenth century. This book takes a new approach to museum studies and institutional critique by highlighting what is missing from the existing scholarship -- the foreign labors, social relations, and somatic experiences of travel that are constitutive of museums yet left out of their histories. The author explores how global trade and monetary theory shaped Cernuschi's collection of archaic Chinese bronze. Exchange systems, both material and immaterial, determined Guimet's museum of religious objects and Goncourt's private collection of Asian art. Bronze, porcelain, and prints articulated the shifting relations and frameworks of understanding between France, Japan, and China in a time of profound transformation. Travel, Collecting, and Museums of Asian Art in Nineteenth-Century Paris thus looks at what Asian art was imagined to do for Europe. This book will be of interest to scholars and students interested in art history, travel imagery, museum studies, cross-cultural encounters, and modern transnational histories.


'Chang is at her most compelling in unravelling the master narratives in the field with her interpretation of Goncourt's collection… a welcome addition to the scholarship on Asian art collecting.' Journal of the History of Collections

'This book offers fresh and provocative analytical frames for the study of the formation of nineteenth-century Euro-American collections of Asian art through an examination of the activities of three French collectors.' H-France

'…clearly written and persuasively argued… makes an original contribution to this emerging area of art history by concentrating on the material aspects of works of art and to the literature of colonial encounters, stressing neglected areas such as the complexity of economic and social relations in these human encounters.' Journal of Art Historiography

'Ting Chang's erudite and intriguing study of travel and Asian art collections in nineteenth-century Paris offers a challenging re-examination of collections and objects… The richness of references and critical frameworks offers a nuanced discussion of preconceptions and presents new conclusions about the relationships between East and West and the complex structures at play in intercultural exchange and interpretation.' Nineteenth-Century French Studies

'By focusing on collecting as a form of cross-cultural encounter, and attending to the specific experiences of her collectors as they assembled and displayed their treasures, she has produced an illuminating study spiralling outwards in unexpected directions.' French Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The historical terms of Euro-Asian object acquisition; Gold, silver, and bronze: Cernuschi's collection and re-appraisals of Europe and Asia; The labor of travel: Guimet and Régamey in Asia; Equivalence and inversion: France, Japan and China in Goncourt's cabinet; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Ting Chang teaches art history at the University of Nottingham. She has published in The Art Bulletin, Oxford Art Journal, Les Cahiers Edmond et Jules de Goncourt, and many other volumes.

About the Series

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting, 1700-1950

The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting provides a forum for the broad study of object acquisition and collecting practices in their global dimensions from 1700 to 1950. The series seeks to illuminate the intersections between material culture studies, art history, and the history of collecting. It takes as its starting point the idea that objects both contributed to the formation of knowledge in the past and likewise contribute to our understanding of the past today. The human relationship to objects has proven a rich field of scholarly inquiry, with much recent scholarship either anthropological or sociological rather than art historical in perspective. Underpinning this series is the idea that the physical nature of objects contributes substantially to their social meanings, and therefore that the visual, tactile, and sensual dimensions of objects are critical to their interpretation. This series therefore seeks to bridge anthropology and art history, sociology and aesthetics. It encompasses the following areas of concern: 1. Material culture in its broadest dimension, including the high arts of painting and sculpture, the decorative arts (furniture, ceramics, metalwork, etc.), and everyday objects of all kinds. 2. Collecting practices, be they institutionalized activities associated with museums, governmental authorities, and religious entities, or collecting done by individuals and social groups. 3. The role of objects in defining self, community, and difference in an increasingly international and globalized world, with cross-cultural exchange and travel the central modes of object transfer. 4. Objects as constitutive of historical narratives, be they devised by historical figures seeking to understand their past or in the form of modern scholarly narratives. The series publishes interdisciplinary and comparative research on objects that addresses one or more of these perspectives and includes monographs, thematic studies, and edited volumes of essays.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / Romanticism