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A Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture duet on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French decorative arts and culture with John Finlay and Kristel Smentek (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

In this pairing of mini-lectures, scholars John Finlay and Kristel Smentek offer complementary views on arts and intercultural exchange between France and China in the eighteenth century.

Henri Bertin and the Representation of China in Eighteenth-Century France (John Finlay)
The role of Henri-Léonard Bertin (1720–92), who served as a minister of state under Louis XV, is crucial to understanding the encounters between China and France in the eighteenth century. Bertin first established his contact with the French Jesuits in Beijing through two Chinese Catholic priests, Aloys Ko and Étienne Yang. When the missionaries returned to China in 1765, they took with them an important set of gifts to be presented to the Qianlong emperor. Not to be misconstrued as tribute from France to China, these gifts were intended to stimulate Chinese interest in French culture and French artistic production.

Disorienting China: Negotiating the Foreign in Eighteenth-Century France (Kristel Smentek)
As European trade with the Qing empire accelerated in the eighteenth century, France was flooded with objects from China whose technologies, materials, and motifs challenged European understanding. These ranged from the lacquers and porcelains with which historians are familiar, to scroll paintings, bronzes, and worked jades whose presence in eighteenth-century Europe is far less studied. This talk investigates the display and material alteration of Asian imports in France and the design of new objects in response to them—strategies by which the French negotiated the pleasures and disorientations of China’s arts.

Wednesday, April 19, 6 pm
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

$15 General Admission | $12 Seniors
Free for BGC members, those with a college or museum ID, and persons with disabilities and caregivers

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Bard Graduate Center is grateful for the generous support of the Selz Foundation.