On Wednesday November 1st, Jan Stuart, the Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, will present a talk titled, “Opulence and Influence–Lives of the Last Empresses of China (1644—1912).” In advance of an exhibition opening in March 2019 in Washington, this lecture examines the lives of empresses in China’s last dynasty, explicating their role in court politics, art, and religion. Dr. Stuart’s aim is to thereby help reclaim their presence and influence that has been egregiously ignored by history.
The Last Empresses of China is the first international exhibition to explore empresses’ participation in shaping the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), the precursor of modern China. The exhibition is a three-way collaboration between the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA, and the Palace Museum, Beijing. In her lecture, through the study of specific objects—including portraits, narrative paintings, religious objects, domestic furnishings, and clothing and jewelry—Dr. Stuart seeks to reveal something of the impact and lifestyle of key empresses, while highlighting their position as recipients of the best of court art.
This lecture will be held in the Recital Hall of the Katzen Arts Center. The talk begins at 4pm, with light refreshments to follow.