Texts by Giorgio Antei, Hwee Lie Blehaut and J. B. Joseph Breton
2021 / 200 PAGES
An odd, eclectic, incredibly detailed portrait of late 18th-century China, which explores many aspects of daily life.
Capturing the essence of late 18th-century China in a hundred miniatures seems an impossible task. Yet, on the orders of the French Minister of State, Bertin, the Chinese Catholic priests Aloys Ko and Etienne Yang completed the assignment, revealing a strange and fascinating world that was very distant from the West and its mentality.
The meticulous miniatures, accompanied by explanatory texts, were published in six small but exquisite volumes. These appeared in France in 1811 and their appeal has remained intact ever since.
This kaleidoscopic collection, exotic and popular at the same time, comes to life again in the pages of this volume, which brings together all the miniatures and the original French texts. The introduction, an essay by Hwee Lie Blehaut, gives an account of the historical and cultural climate in which the idea of Chine en miniature developed. Giorgio Antei's text instead focusses on the point of view of the foreigner and the "barbarian" in both the Western and Chinese cultures. A journey through time and space, to explore a civilisation that may perhaps appear remote but, although crystallised in those meticulous drawings, still reveals its vital power today.