Henri Bertin and the Representation of China in Eighteenth-Century France
Finlay, John. Henri Bertin and the representation of China in eighteenth-century France. Routledge, 2020. 178 p. (“Routledge Research in Art History”). ISBN : 9781138204737. (Parution prévue le 9 juillet 2020).
This is an in-depth study of the intellectual, technical, and artistic encounters between Europe and China in the late eighteenth century, focusing on the purposeful acquisition of information and images that characterized a direct engagement with the idea of “China.”
The central figure in this story is Henri-Léonard Bertin (1720–1792), who served as a minister of state under Louis XV and, briefly, Louis XVI. Both his official position and personal passion for all things Chinese placed him at the center of intersecting networks of like-minded individuals who shared his ideal vision of China as a nation from which France had much to learn. John Finlay examines a fascinating episode in the rich history of cross-cultural exchange between China and Europe in the early modern period, and this book will be an important and timely contribution to a very current discussion about Sino-French cultural relations.