Modern Antiquity: Chinese Bogu Painting in the Late Qing and Early Republic


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation Travel Grants to China


Art History, Theory, and Criticism


Why do artists look to the past to find contemporary inspiration? An unlikely episode in modern Chinese art history is the alliance between prominent painters and collectors to create hybrid works of strong antiquarian flavor. My dissertation focuses on a genre known as bogu or “ancient erudition” paintings from the late Qing and Early Republic. Largely ignored by art historians, these composite ink painting and rubbing works combine elements of archeology, epigraphy as well as Western realism. This study seeks to shed light on the socio-historical context and motives for these images. Ultimately, this research may help define how antiquarian practices seeped into Chinese popular culture, and shed light on the ways in which art can transform antiquity into a modern visual language.