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New York University (New York, U.S.A.)
Institute of Fine Arts

Thesis Topic

The Ming's Cosmopolitan Beginnings: Pictorial Art in Yingtian/Nanjing, 1368–1424

The dissertation studies the pictorial art produced in the first capital of the Ming dynasty, Yingtianfu, from the founding of the dynasty in 1368 to the end of Ming Emperor Yongle’s reign in 1424. The five chapters in the dissertation address the following interwoven themes: the re-emergence of the city as a leading cultural center after several centuries of supporting roles; the encountering, collaboration and competition between different regional artistic traditions in the new Ming capital; the new Ming court’s complex pursuit of identity and legitimacy through their patronage of pictorial arts.

Early Ming, especially the period from 1368 and 1424, is one of the poorly studied periods in Chinese art history. This dissertation confronts this lack and its many inherent challenges (lack of extant works of recorded artists, for example). With a special focus on early Ming capital Yingtian, I aim to showcase how a particular “space-time-people ensemble” shaped pictorial art production in these uncertain decades. With this question answered, my dissertation will also provide a better understanding of how pictorial art production actually transitioned from the late-Yuan period to the mid-fifteenth century.

Anonymous, Seated Imperial Portrait of Ming Emperor Chengzu (Yongle), ink and color on silk, 220 x 150cm, Taipei: National Palace Museum.