Arts and Culture
Since the 17th century, a mass of Chinese kuancai lacquer screens were exported oversea to Europe, which has exerted a profound influence on the European society and served as an important bridge in the cultural exchange between China and Europe. Among these lacquer screens, the twelve-panel Coromandel kuancai black lacquer screen with the motif of “Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix” from the Kangxi Period of the Qing Dynasty in the collection of The Museum of Lacquer Art in Muenster, Germany and related artifacts have witnessed this splendid period of history. Focusing on the case study of this screen, this paper interrogates the route and process of the westward spread of kuancai screens since the 17th century. The paper attempts to elaborate a series of entangled issues including the themes and functions, the production sketches and places of kuancai screens with the flower-and-bird motifs so as to trace the origins and circulations of such paintings on lacquer screens in China and Europe. Furthermore, the paper will discuss the development and changes of such screens in Germany against the background of the rise of “Chinoiserie” in Europe at this time. The paper will not only broaden the research vision and scope of the westward spread of kuancai flower-and-bird screens, but also reveal the crucial position of kuancai technique in the history of foreign trade and the world history of art during the 17th century.