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Korean J Art Hist > Volume 305; 2020 > Article
Korean Journal of Art History 2020;305:197-219.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.31065/ahak.305.305.202003.007    Published online March 31, 2020.
18세기 유럽인의 중국 인식과 시각이미지의 변화
문화재청 문화재감정위원
Changing European Perceptions and Images on China through the Eighteenth Century
Kyunghyun Choi
Connoisseur, Cultural Heritage Administration
Correspondence:  Kyunghyun Choi,
Received: 21 August 2019   • Revised: 9 September 2019   • Accepted: 1 October 2019
To the eyes of Europeans, China had been nothing else but a curious, exotic, and mysterious land before Jesuit missionaries arrived at its shore in 1582. It is with a wealth of information the missionaries sent back via official reports and personal letters that substantial understandings and perception on the distant empire has increased throughout Europe. Publications based on the Jesuit materials enjoyed wide readership and eventually contributed to the formation of European view on China in the eighteenth century. During the first half of the century China has received a breadth of favorable approvals as the Chinoiserie prevailed in the opposite side of Eurasia. Studying such Sinological books from the preceding century as China Illustrated and Confucius sinarum philosophus, early exponents of the Enlightenment, who challenged social absurdities of the Age of Absolutism, eulogized the Confucian monarchy as a nation that has achieved a civilized code of universal morality and rationality. The enthusiastic approval had to do with the Jesuits who held a favorable attitude toward China while making missionary approaches of cultural adaptation and accommodation. Description de la Chine, encyclopedic volumes on China published by a French Jesuit in 1735, shows an influence from the early Enlightenment thinkers given that it attempts to fill the text with experiential learning and unbiased facts, removes visual images illustrating Chinese idolatry or bizarre hearsay, and includes maps with geographical features. And yet the late eighteenth century saw a different phase. Rousseau (1712-1778) the bourgeois thinker of the late Enlightenment, who opposed aristocracy, went on to criticize Chinese culture the noble appreciated. Following his teacher, Herder (1744-1803) concluded that the domination of Confucianism for two millenniums has left China still and benighted, the findings as a result of applying his organicistic philosophy of history. Amidst when such negative views on China proliferates did An Emabassy to China come out, the journal George Macarney (1737-1806) kept during his embassy of 1792 to 1794 that the British King dispatched to address a trade deficit. Lackluster landscapes and subject-matters of illustrations William Alexander produced for the book testify to Europeans unsympathetic to China of the time. Furthermore, the Embassy foreshadows the forthcoming British imperialism, as attested by the later publication of China, The Scenery, Architecture, and Social Habits of That Ancient Empire (1843) that features an array of retouched illustrations based on Alexander’s 120 works in addition to a new scene depicting the British victory over the Opium War.
Key Words: 중국관(中國觀, the View of China), 동서문화 교류(東西文化 交流, Cultural Interchanges between the East and The West), 공자 초상(孔子 肖像, the Portraits of Confucius), 아타나시우스 키르허(Athanasius Kircher), 필 립 쿠플레(Philippe Couplet), 조지 매카트니(George Macartney), 윌리엄 알렉산더(William Alexander)
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