A CHINESE IMITATION OF A FLEMISH ALLEGORICAL PICTURE REPRESENTING THE MUSES OF EUROPEAN SCIENCES1 BY N. GOLVERS In my edition of the Astronomia Europaea of F. Verbiest, S J. (1623-1688),2 I published a Chinese picture, commonly inter- preted as a Chinese allegorical representation of the Muses of Eu- ropean scicnces in 17th-century China, and thus well appropriate to illustrate the ma.in topic of this remarkable treatise (Fig. 1). However, since I discovered the western model of this Chinese picture (cf. infra), view on both the origin and the interpretation of this picture, and even of many of its iconographic details are changed, without affecting the relation with the subject of the Astronomia Europaea. In the following lines, I will report about this European model, its historic background, and about the conse- quences of this finding for a true interpretation of this picture and the album of which it is a part. This Chinese picture was found by B. Laufer and published in a famous contribution entitled "Christian Art in China".3 It is part of an album, acquired by the author in Sian (Hsi An fu), Shensi province, in the beginning of this century, which consisted of six paintings
T'oung Pao – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1995
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