Lecture: Period Pieces – Approaching the Recent Past in Ming-Qing Connoisseurship

Date of event:   24/11/2021 − 24/11/2021

Title: Period Pieces: Approaching the Recent Past in Ming-Qing Connoisseurship
Format: Online event
Speaker: Bruce Rusk (University of British Columbia)
Date and time: 24 November 2021; 15:30 – 17:30
Organized by: Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands

In sixteenth-century China, writers commenting on collecting practices noted the rise of “new antiques,” items of recent vintage that were esteemed alongside those of greater age and more established value. The same sources also use new labels to discuss art objects, classifying them by some permutation of time, space, and human creator. Although these metacategories existed earlier, new subsets and combinations that arose in the late Ming (1368–1644) have shaped connoisseurial conventions ever since. Focusing on the use of “era names” (nianhao) that tie decorative objects (especially porcelain, lacquer, and metalwork) to the emperors who ostensibly commissioned them, this talk explores the interplay of geography, chronology, and human agency in shaping the supply and demand for decorative objects across multiple forms and materials. Was there something like a sense of “period style” that transcended or could be reconstructed from multiple media?

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