Following his participation in the Dutch East India Company’s last embassy to the Chinese court (1794–95), A.E. van Braam Houckgeest moved to Philadelphia with an enormous personal collection of Chinese art. This talk explores van Braam’s self-fashioning through his collaboration with two unnamed Guangzhou artists and the French émigré printer and defender of race-based slavery, M.L.E. Moreau de Saint-Méry. The illustrated memoir these men produced places van Braam’s textual narrative within an expansive visual environment of Chinese landscape paintings and other works of Asian art, conjuring artistic presences as testaments to the author’s self-proclaimed virtue, prestige, and republican ideals.
Dawn Odell is Associate Professor of Art History at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Her research focuses on the circulation of artists, objects, and printed texts among cities in Asia, Europe, and the Americas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Her recent essays discuss the “domestication” of Chinese porcelain in the Netherlands, Dutch travel books and poetic painting traditions in East Asia, and the “Chineseness” of a standing screen in Jakarta, Indonesia. Dr. Odell’s current book project is focused on the subject of this presentation, van Braam Houckgeest’s collection of Chinese art and the often-unnamed individuals who participated in its creation and display.
Sponsors: School of Art & Design Visitors Committee, Kress Foundation, Illinois Internationally-Themed Event Grant, Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Krannert Art Museum