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In Session: Recontextualizing East Asia in Premodern Japanese Art History
3: Sino-Japanese Exchange and the Making of “Shen Nanpin”
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
Princeton University, United States
In 1731 the Chinese painter Shen Nanpin (also known as Shen Quan, 1682–1760?) arrived in Nagasaki, and less than two years later returned to China. His short Japanese sojourn remains one of the few known facts about the artist despite the thousands of works currently bearing his signature and seals. The Qing painter’s popularity and the resultant scale and diversity of his visual archive developed from a reception history that traded on his name across an ocean. That is, Shen Nanpin exists as a renowned art historical figure precisely due to the proliferation of imagery that obscures any “genuine” trace of the painter himself. Only by considering his attributed works holistically can we begin to understand the intimate relationship between Chinese painting production and Japanese reception that codified his historical memory. The superabundance of painting made to perform the “Nanpin brand” for Japanese viewers offers a rich archive to rethink the parameters of art historical exchange across early-modern East Asia.