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Detail, Nasi al-Din Shah on the Peacock Throne. Antonin Sevruguin, ca. 1880. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, Smithsonian Institution. FSA A.1501

Ars Orientalis

Now Available: Volume 43

Ars Orientalis 43 presents eleven articles that use images such as the one illustrated here and many others to explore the emergence of portrait photography across Asia at a moment when empires around the globe were experimenting with the new medium of photography as a means of claiming power and communicating royal identity.

The imperial portraits which are at the heart of this volume date primarily from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and present rulers from empires across Asia. These are professional works that engage viewers with an international language of portraiture, of imperial power, and of photography. Despite the obvious similarities among them, there are also significant differences: details of dress, setting, and objects associated with the subject are all culturally specific and indicate the degree to which local photographic practice was shaped by the particular artistic and cultural traditions out of which it emerged.

The authors whose work appears in the volume approach the history of photography from different disciplinary perspectives and focus their attention on a range of cultures and time periods. Using geography as a rough mode of organization, the volume begins in the Ottoman Empire and moves east through Iran, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Korea, ending with four articles that examine various aspects of Chinese imperial portraiture. At the core of each essay is a concern with the historic specificity of the circumstances of photographic production and the materiality of the images. The authors look at a series of other issues as well: the intersection of photography with other media, particularly drawing and painting; the dissemination and intended audience for photographic portraits as well as their impact on those audiences; the manner in which traditional means of presenting imperial identity were absorbed and perhaps altered by the medium; the establishment of new imperial modes of communication using photography; and the continuing influence of traditional modes of representation in contemporary royal portraiture.

Ars Orientalis 43 Table of Contents

Ars Orientalis 43 Table of Contents

Nancy Micklewright

Ottoman Statecraft and the “Pencil of Nature”: Photography, Painting, and Drawing at the Court of Sultan Abdülaziz
Mary Roberts

Royal Portrait Photography in Iran: Constructions of Masculinity, Representations of Power
Ali Behdad

Photography and Afghan Diplomacy in the Early Twentieth Century
Holly Edwards

Presenting the Self: Pictorial and Photographic Discourses in Nineteenth-century Dutch Indies and Siam
John Clark

The Aesthetics and Politics of Royal Portraiture in Thailand
Maurizio Peleggi

Korean Royal Portraits in the Colonial Archives
Christine Kim

Handle with Care: Shaping the Official Image of the Emperor in Early Meiji Japan
Maki Fukuoka

Prince Chun through the Lens: Negotiating the Photographic Medium in Royal Images
Yi Gu

The Mandarin at Home and Abroad: Picturing Li Hongzhang
Roberta Wue
Lingering between Tradition and Innovation: Photographic Portraits of Empress Dowager Cixi
Ying-chen Peng

The Empress Dowager’s Birthday: The Photographs of Cixi’s Long Life Without End
Claire Roberts

Index of Names

Please note: The Freer Gallery of Art will be closed to the public from January 2016 until summer 2017. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Library, and Archives will remain open for the duration of the renovation. Learn more »