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
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.