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Title: Victory pictures in a time of defeat : depicting war in the print and visual culture of late Qing China 1884-1901
Author: Hwang, Yin
ISNI:       0000 0004 5359 1246
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis addresses the development of the pictorial genre known as the 'victory picture' in 19th century China. Largely associated with production under the patronage of the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-95), victory pictures were thought to have been confined to the imperial milieu. However, my research has revealed that such pictures found expression in late Qing popular culture through the medium of sheet-prints (often erroneously referred to as 'New Year Pictures'). An analytical framework has been established by bringing together hitherto isolated bodies of material in different institutions in several countries. The woodblock prints that form the primary basis of this thesis have mostly come from the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris; the British Library, the British Museum and SOAS in London, and the Shanghai Library and Shanghai History Museum. This thesis focuses on popular prints depicting scenes from the Sino-French War (1884-85), the Sino-Japanese War (1895) and the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), in particular, those from the urbanized Jiangnan-Shanghai region and its publishing and distribution networks in South China. This locates them vis-à-vis the contexts of modernity, the development of news reportage and mass media and the treaty-port environment. It examines why the victory picture was so prevalent at a time when the Qing armies faced constant defeat. With the rise of naval power, and the theatre of war shifting to the sea, I also examine how a new iconography for war was developed through these popular prints, as maritime art was largely unfamiliar in China. As the prints were widely circulated and copied, the phenomenon of their seriality over time and space is also examined. The victory print is thus not only understood as a picture but as an object, specific to its period and medium. Finally, the print itself serves as a primary source: its rubric yields valuable information for a new understanding of the popular print market.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral