The Ghost in the City
Luo Ping and the Craft of Painting in Eighteenth-Century China
- PUBLISHED: May 2023
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, Art History / Asian Art
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 248 Pages, 7 x 10 in, 68 color illus., 27 b&w illus., 2 maps
- ISBN: 9780295750958
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
In 1771 the artist Luo Ping (1733–99) left his native Yangzhou to relocate to the burgeoning hub of Beijing's Southern City. Over two decades, he became the favored artist of a cosmopolitan community of scholars and officials who were at the forefront of the cultural life of the Qing-dynasty (1644–1911). From his spectacular ghost paintings to his later work exploring the city's complex history, compressed spatial layout, and unique social rituals, Luo Ping captured the pleasures and concerns of a changing world at the end of the Qing's "Prosperous Age."
This study takes the reader into the vibrant artistic and literary cultures of Beijing outside the court and to the networks of scholars, artists, and entertainers that turned the Southern City into a place like no other in the Qing empire. At the center of this narrative lie Luo Ping's layered reflections on the medium of painting and its histories and formal conventions. Close reading of the work of Luo Ping and his contemporaries reveals how this generation of experimental artists sought to reform ink painting, paving the way for further developments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Drawing on a vast range of textual and visual sources, The Ghost in the City shares groundbreaking research that will transform our understanding of the evolution of modern ink painting.
Authors & Contributors
Michele Matteini is assistant professor of art history at New York University and associate faculty at the Institute of Fine Arts.
This book is important because it deals in depth with a period that has been neglected in art-historical scholarship, and because it interweaves art history and literary history.- Claudia Brown, author of Great Qing: Painting in China, 1644–1911
A significant foray into a culturally rich part of Beijing. Compelling, insightful, appealing, and readable.- Kristina Kleutghen, author of Imperial Illusions: Crossing Pictorial Boundaries in the Qing Palaces
Matteini's expansive and nuanced exploration of Luo Ping's late career brings refreshing insight into painting practices and the artist's role in society during the late eighteenth century, a period often overlooked in the history of painting.- Kathleen Ryor, Carleton College
The Ghost in the City makes apparent the complex terrains of Luo Ping's Beijing works. Erudite and engaging, Matteini's tender and wide-ranging readings lay bare Luo's haunting ability to unveil and envision his multiple spheres, whether personal, social, historical, or imaginary.- Roberta Wue, author of Art Worlds: Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late Nineteenth-Century Shanghai