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Kristel Smentek
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Explore the craft of research with visiting scholars, artists, and experts in an informal setting with snacks and drinks.

Sybilla Augusta’s Chinese Banquet in 1729

In January 1729, Sibylla Augusta, Margravine of Baden-Baden, hosted a Chinese dinner at Schloss Ettlingen near Karlsruhe. A rare, surviving set of 23 hand-colored prints published in Augsburg the following year documents the event. Together, the images and their short accompanying text shed light on the ways in which China was imagined—materially, gastronomically, and to some extent musically—by early modern European elites. At the same time, the banquet raises provocative questions about historical interpretation and the legacies of cultural appropriation.

Kristel Smentek is associate professor of art history in the Department of Architecture at MIT. Her research focuses on eighteenth-century European graphic and decorative arts in their transcultural contexts. She is the author of Mariette and the Science of the Connoisseur in Eighteenth-Century Europe (2014), co-curator of Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment recently on view at the Harvard Art Museums, and co-editor of its accompanying catalogue. She is currently completing Disorient: Arts from China in Eighteenth-Century France, a book investigating French responses to Chinese imports over the course of the long eighteenth century.

Thursday, April 20, 12:15 pm
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

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Kristel Smentek will also be at BGC on Wednesday, April 19 for a public presentation. Learn more and register here