;The thesis employs the core concepts of the “New Qing History”—the perspectives of a de-centering Han-ethnic, and that of treating the Manchu people as the main subjects of history—to reappraise Palace Paintings in the Qing dynasty. The thesis reflects upon how the Manchurian specificity, which is highlighted by the “New Qing History”, exerted its influence on Court Painting, and examines how the military and political forces of the Qing reign permeated the field of Court Painting. The case study of Xu Yang (1712-1779) and some pieces of his paintings related to the Qianlong Emperor’s Ten CompleteMilitary Victories (十全武功) are the main concerns of the discourses of the research, which help to investigate how the Qing imperial narrative, such as the military activities conducted by the Qing and the individual taste of Qianlong, interacted with the cultural production of Xu Yang. Concerning the perspectives of the “New Qing History”, the thesis considers the representation of related paintings of Military Victories by Xu Yang as a distinctive quality of the Qing Palace Paintings, which embodied the marks during the process of its empire-building.
The conquest of Xinjiang and two Jinchuan region (兩金川) were listed the first and the second of Ten CompleteMilitary Victories of Qianlong, which were the two important wars of expanding the boundary of the Qing empire. During and after these wars, Qianlong himself oversaw a series of military and cultural activities. Under Qianlong’s reign, it can be understood that the military field and the cultural field were not without boundary-crossing. Following this idea, the subsequent chapters further demonstrate the relationship between the imperial narrative and the production of Court Painting.
Born in Suzhou, Xu Yang was an intellectual before serving the court in 1751. Ever since he served the court, he was promoted many times with scholarly honor and official rank by Qianlong. Qianlong’s favor to Xu was no doubt—given the fact that he was not a professional painter in the beginning, while after he started to serve the court, he was qualified to complete various kinds of paintings commissioned by Qianlong, and as a result, to gain official rank on occasion. In Chapter One, the interrelationship between the Manchurian emperor and the Han subject is discussed and explained based on Xu’s court activities. Chapters Two and Three respectively discuss paintings related the conquest of Xinjiang,Pacifying Xiyu and Offering Captive Ritual (平定西域獻俘禮圖),Xiyu Map (Picturing the Geogrophy of Xiyu, 西域輿圖), andBattle Scenes of Quelling the Rebellion in two Jinchuan Regions (平定兩金川戰圖) depicting the Second Jinchuan War. In Chapter Two, I explore howPacifying Xiyu and Offering Captive Ritualincorporated the production system of Official Tribute (職貢圖) and the military portraits of the Qing, which transferred the unifying imagination of the Qianlong empire into a real military ceremony. I also observe how the cultural production ofXiyu Mapbecame a part of the project of imperial mapping in the area of Xinjiang under the reign of Qianlong. Both were the sub-projects of central military scheme. In Chapter Three, I demonstrate Battle Scenes of Quelling the Rebellion in two Jinchuan Regionswas in fact a product interwoven by the Royal Poems of Qianlong and the Combat Situation Illustrations (作戰態勢圖) from the central Military Affairs. These court paintings by Xu should not be seen as an autonomous cultural production, nor a production independent of Qing military projects. Rather, it should be seen as a sub-production under the centralized military culture. Through the interpretation and comparison of the official court records and Xu Yang’s paintings, the thesis argues that the Qing Court Painting was a cultural field filled with political force, rather than an autonomous cultural system.