Ying-Chen PengDec 15, 2022
Empress Dowager Cixi's Image Making
Yale University Press 2023
Ying-chen Peng’s Artful Subversion: Empress Dowager Cixi’s Image Making is a beautiful new volume on late Qing imperial art practice from Yale University Press (forthcoming in 2023). Peng’s book, rigorously researched and richly illustrated, presents a revisionist biography of the Empress Dowager through an analysis of her patronage and participation in making art. Each chapter follows Cixi’s her “artfully subversive” command of various media forms, from photography and portraiture, to architecture, porcelain, painting, and calligraphy. Considering Cixi as a patron and artist in her own right, Peng frames the regent as a canny political and aesthetic strategist who worked within and against conventions that circumscribed female power to craft an assertive role as the face of the Great Qing Empire at a moment of immense historical changes. Join us for a fascinating discussion of the artistic universe crafted by Cixi.
Julia Keblinska is a member of the Global Arts and Humanities Society of Fellows at the Ohio State University specializing in Chinese media history and comparative socialisms.