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Imperial Exposure: Early Photography and Royal Portraits across Asia

Freer Gallery of Art
Meyer Auditorium
December 5–6, 2011

Coinciding with the Sackler exhibition Power|Play: China’s Empress Dowager, this symposium examined imperial portraiture during the advent of photography in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

While Power|Play addressed the unique circumstances and intentions behind photographs of Empress Dowager Cixi, the symposium was an opportunity for a broader comparative analysis of the engagement with photography in ruling courts across Asia. Among other topics, scholars considered how photographs of court figures were used to create images of power, to establish a sense of nationhood, and to express a religious identity, as well as the relationship between early photographic representations and more recent imperial images from the region.

Invited speakers included Ali Behdad, John Clark, Deepali Dewan, Holly Edwards, Maki Fukuoka, Luke Gartlan, Yi Gu, Christine Kim, Yuhang Li, Hyung Il Pai, Maurizio Peleggi, Ying-chen Peng, Claire Roberts, Mary Roberts, and Roberta Wue. Visit the links below to learn more about the speakers and their presentations.

Conference Program
Speaker Bios

Detail of 'he Empress Dowager Cixi' glass plate negative

Detail, The Empress Dowager Cixi; China, Qing dynasty, 1903-1904; Glass plate negative; SC-GR 254.

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