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Looking East: Rubens’s Encounter with Asia

Editor: Stephanie Schrader
Author: , , ,
Publisher: , 2014
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

Peter Paul Rubens’s fascinating depiction of a man wearing Korean costume of around 1617, in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, has been considered noteworthy since it was made. Published to accompany an exhibition of Rubens’s Man in Korean Costume at the J. Paul Getty Museum from March 5 to June 9, 2013, Looking East: Rubens’s Encounter with Asia explores the various facets of Rubens’s compelling drawing of this Asian man that appears in later Rubens works. This large drawing was copied in Rubens’s studio during his own time and circulated as a reproductive print in the eighteenth century. Despite the drawing’s renown, however, the reasons why it was made and whether it actually depicts a specific Asian person remain a mystery. The intriguing story that develops involves a shipwreck, an unusual hat, the earliest trade between Europe and Asia, the trafficking of Asian slaves, and the role of Jesuit missionaries in Asia.

The book’s editor, Stephanie Schrader, traces the interpretations and meanings ascribed to this drawing over the centuries. Could Rubens have actually encountered a particular Korean man who sailed to Europe, or did he instead draw a model wearing Asian clothing or simply hear about such a person? What did Europeans really know about Korea during that period, and what might the Jesuits have had to do with the production of this drawing? All of these questions are asked and explored by the book’s contributors, who look at the drawing from various points of view.

Stephanie Schrader is associate curator in the Department of Drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Her recent publications include “Naturalism Under the Microscope: A Technical Study of Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam” (Getty Research Journal, 2012) and contributions to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition catalogue Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart’s Renaissance (2010).

“How did Europeans and non-Europeans alike respond to contact with foreign ideas, cultures, religions, and people? . . . Looking East stands as an excellent example of the ways in which museums can engage academic and public interest simultaneously and seamlessly.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books


The Many Identities of Rubens’s Man in Korean Costume: New Perspectives on Old Interpretations | Stephanie Schrader
Looking at the Clothing of Rubens’s Man in Korean Costume | Kim Young-Jae
Implicit Understanding: Rubens and the Representation of the Jesuit Missions in Asia | Stephanie Schrader
Korean Contacts with Europeans in Beijing, and European Inspiration in Early Modern Korean Art | Burglind Jungmann
The Place of the “Exotic” in Early-Seventeenth-Century Antwerp | Christine Gottler

LKL says:

A totally fascinating collection of essays published alongside a 2013 exhibition at the J Paul Getty Museum

LKL rating: score-2score-2score-2score-2score-0

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.