Kristina Kleutghen

Kristina Kleutghen

David W. Mesker Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology
PhD, Harvard University
research interests:
  • Chinese Art and Architecture
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    • Washington University
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    Kristina Kleutghen is a specialist in Chinese Art, particularly of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Focusing on early modern, modern, and contemporary Chinese art, her research investigates Sino-foreign interaction, the imperial court, optical devices, and connections to science and mathematics.

    Her research has been supported by the Blakemore Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Getty Research Institute.

    Her first book, Imperial Illusions: Crossing Pictorial Boundaries in the Qing Palaces, was recently published by University of Washington Press.

    Her second book, Lens onto the World: Optical Devices, Art, Science, and Society in China (under advance contract with University of Washington Press), will be the first to study the forgotten relationship between Chinese optical devices and art from the fifteenth through early-twentieth centuries. When the first Chinese treatise on optics appeared in 1847, it was inspired by the wide range of optical devices that had circulated in China for nearly three hundred years. Since these devices were considered more within the realm of art than of science, their presence resulted in a wide range of paintings, prints, and visual culture. These works reveal that the effects of optical devices on vision and visuality arose less from foreignness, as might be expected, than from local culture and social class. 

    Selected Publications

    "Exotic Medicine: How Ignatius Sichelbarth's Painting of a Musk Deer Appeared in the Philosophical Transactions," in Orientations vol. 50 no. 6 (November/December 2019).

    With S.E. Kile, “Seeing Through Pictures and Poetry: A History of Lenses (1681),” Late Imperial China 38:1 (June 2017), 47-112. 

    “Huang Yong Ping and the Power of Zoomorphic Ambiguity,” in The Zoomorphic Imagination in Chinese Art, eds. Jerome Silbergeld and Eugene Wang (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2016), 401-431. 

    "'Ethnicity, Empire and ‘Europe:’ Jesuit Art in China During the Papacy of Benedict XIV,” in Benedict XIV and the Enlightenment: Art, Science, and Spirituality, eds. Rebecca Messbarger, Philip Gavitt, and Christopher M. S. Johns (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016), 419-438. 

    “From Science to Art: The Evolution of Linear Perspective in Eighteenth-Century Chinese Art,” in Qing Encounters: Artistic Exchanges between China and the West, eds. Petra ten-Doesschate Chu and Ding Ning (Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, 2015), 173-189. “Bringing Art to Life: Giuseppe Castiglione and Scenic Illusion Painting,” in Portrayals from a Brush Divine: A Special Exhibition on the Tricentennial of Giuseppe Castiglione’s Arrival in China (Taipei: National Palace Museum, 2015), 324-337.

    “Peepboxes, Society, and Visuality in Early Modern China,” Art History 38:4 (September 2015), 762-777.

    “Chinese Occidenterie: the Diversity of “Western” Objects in Eighteenth-Century China,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 47:2 (January 2014), 117-35.

    “Staging Europe: Theatricality and Painting at the Chinese Imperial Court,” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 42 (2012), 81-102.

    “One or Two, Repictured,” Archives of Asian Art 62 (2012), 25-46.

    “通景画与郎世宁遗产 (Scenic Illusion Paintings and the Legacy of Giuseppe Castiglione),” Palace Museum Journal 故宫博物院院刊161 (2012, no. 3), 77-88.

    “Heads of State: Looting, Nationalism and Repatriation of the Zodiac Bronzes,” in Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals ed. Susan Delson (New York: Prestel, 2011), 162-83.

    “Contemplating Eternity: An Illusionistic Portrait of the Qianlong Emperor’s Heir,” Orientations 42:4 (May 2011), 73-79.

    Imperial Illusions

    Imperial Illusions

    In the Forbidden City and other palaces around Beijing, Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736-1795) surrounded himself with monumental paintings of architecture, gardens, people, and faraway places. The best artists of the imperial painting academy, including a number of European missionary painters, used Western perspectival illusionism to transform walls and ceilings with visually striking images that were also deeply meaningful to Qianlong. These unprecedented works not only offer new insights into late imperial China's most influential emperor, but also reflect one way in which Chinese art integrated and domesticated foreign ideas.