Please join us for the first lecture in the 2018-2019 Department of Art History Speaker Series.
Ankeney Weitz is Ellerton M. and Edith K. Jetté Professor of Art at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Her research specialties include the visual culture of Song and Yuan dynasties China; the history of collecting in China; and Chinese twentieth-century abstact painting, particularly the work of Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013).
An Orthinological Approach to Chinese Painting?
What can the identification of the birds in Chinese paintings from the Song and Yuan dynasties reveal about the intersections between art, science, and society? Surviving paintings often bear generic titles like Birds and Bamboo; however, the actual avian and botanical images are so carefully rendered that we can name most of the species by using modern field guides. How does the empirical impulse observed in these paintings relate to the growth of natural history during the Song? Can closer iconographic study of these images reveal hidden meanings or unvover patterns of use and exchange (of both the animals and the artworks)? And more broadly, can art history contribute to the history of science?