Architectures, Historiography, Media Library, Practices, Spatial Orders

VIDEO: The Last Gift from Beijing: the Jesuit Gardens and the Sino-European Botanical Exchanges, by Lianming Wang

In this 4A_Lab talk, Lianming Wang contextualizes the Beijing Jesuit gardens in the framework of global dynamics of horticultural and hydraulic practice as places of fruitful transcultural encounter and scientific knowledge production. The event took place on July 12, 2021 as part of the 4A_Lab online seminar series.

4A_Lab, Lianming Wang
Video preview: Vegetal details, in: Anonymous, A solemn procession in the front yard of the Beitang church in Beijing, color on silk, 185.7 x 130 cm, 1786 (?). Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Jesuit gardens arguably constitute a transcultural phenomenon of early modernity: with their forms and aesthetics, they materialized the transregional transfer of European elite knowledge and culture in the early modern world. This talk discusses the role of Beijing Jesuit gardens in early-modern global dynamics connected to botanical and horticultural practices. Drawing on a monumental Chinese painting (now at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France) that depicts a wide variety of plants, Lianming Wang examines the function of the gardens as walk-in spaces for transcultural experience, as well as experimental platforms for artistic and botanical entanglements between European religious knowledge production and Qing court art. He also demontrates that these garden sites bear important witness to the collecting practices of European Jesuit patrons in the early modern period.

The talk “The Last Gift from Beijing: the Jesuit Gardens and the Sino-European Botanical Exchanges” took place on July 12, 2021 within the framework of the 4A_Lab online seminar series.

About the Speaker


Lianming Wang is a Visiting Scholar at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – MPI with the research project “Transgressive Animals, Territorial Locality, and the Qing Global Histories.” Prior to that, he was Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History at Heidelberg University (2014–2021) and a Postdoctoral Fellow of the research group “Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices” at the Berlin-based Forum Transregional Studies (2018–2019). His areas of research include global encounters of arts and culture in early modernity and the artistic practices and materiality associated with trans-territorial animals. Wang has organized workshops and conferences related to Sino-European exchanges, including "The Jesuit Legacies: Images, Visuality, and Cosmopolitanism in Qing China" (chief organizer, 2015); "Reframing Chinese Objects: Practices of Collecting and Displaying in Europe and the Islamic World, 1400–1800" (co-organizer, 2018); and "Before the Silk Road: Eurasian Interactions in the First Millennium BC" (chief organizer, 2019). His latest volume, "Jesuitenerbe in Peking. Sakralbauten und transkulturelle Räume, 1600–1800" (Winter Verlag, 2020) explores the global entanglements of Jesuit art and architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries.