Figure of the Chinese in European Art (The)

Christophe Huet, Young Chinese men practicing archery, detail from the paneling in the Chinese salon at the Chateau de Champs-sur-Marne, 1748-1749

While the discovery of America in 1492 was a cultural and psychological shock for Europe, one that was echoed in Montaigne, the mythical “Cathay” of Asia had always been a part of Western imagination thanks to the Silk Road. The exchange that developed beginning in the seventeenth century established direct contact with this “other,” whose difference was both surprising and captivating, and whose representations primarily express an Orient ( “The East”) dreamt up by Europeans.