Giuseppe Castiglione (Jesuit)
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Linear perspective painting by Castiglione. (The Old Summer Palace museum collection)
19 July 1688|
|Died||17 July 1766
|Known for||Painting and architecture|
Giuseppe Castiglione, S.J. (simplified Chinese: 郎世宁; traditional Chinese: 郎世寧; pinyin: Lángshìníng) (July 19, 1688 – July 17, 1766), was an Italian Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China, where he became a painter at the imperial court of the Qianlong Emperor.
Born in Milan's San Marcellino district, in his early years Castiglione studied painting with Carlo Cornara of the renowned Bottega degli Stampatori painting studio. In 1709 he became a Jesuit. Although a Jesuit, he was never a priest. He was rather a lay brother.
Work in China
The Jesuits in China having asked for a painter to be sent to the imperial court in Beijing, Castiglione volunteered and was accepted. In 1710 on the way to Lisbon he passes through Coimbra where he is kept several years to decorate the chapel of St. Francis Borgia in the Church of the novitiate, today the New Cathedral of Coimbra, and painted a Circumcision of Jesus for the main altar of the same church.
In 1715, Castiglione arrived in China as a missionary. While there, Castiglione took the name Lang Shining (郎世寧). His skill as an artist was appreciated by the Qianlong Emperor and Castiglione spent many years in the court painting various subjects, including the portraits of the emperor and empress.
Castiglione's work served as the subject for a series of "Battle Copper Prints" commissioned by the Emperor to commemorate his military campaigns. Small-scale copies of his paintings were shipped to Paris and rendered into engravings with etching before being returned to China. A series of sixteen prints by Castiglione and his contemporaries Jean-Denis Attiret, Ignatius Sichelbart and Jean-Damascène Sallusti were created in this way.
Castiglione's style was a unique blend of European and Chinese compositional sensibility, technique and themes. Western style was adjusted to suit Chinese taste - strong shadows used in chiaroscuro techniques were unacceptable as the Qianlong Emperor thought that shadows looked like dirt, therefore when Castiglione painted the emperor, the intensity of the light was reduced so that there was no shadow on the face, and the features were distinct.
In addition to his demonstrable skill as a painter, he was also in charge of designing the Western-Style Palaces in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace. This prominent Jesuit artist, architect, and missionary died in Beijing.
Due to Castiglione's work Qing court paintings began to show a clear Western influence. Other European painters followed and a new school of painting was created that combined Chinese and Western methods. The influence of Western art on the Qing court paintings is particularly evident in the light, shade, perspective, as well as the priority given to recording contemporary events.
In 2005, Castiglione became the subject of the television series Palace Artist in China, played by famed Canadian-Chinese actor Dashan (Mark Rowswell), and broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV).
The Qianlong Emperor
The Qianlong Emperor chasing a deer on a hunting trip
Qianlong collecting lingzhi
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Giuseppe Castiglione.|
- Lang Shining and his Painting Gallery at China Online Museum
- National Palace Museum Taiwan
- Palace Artist on Mark Rowswell's website
- Qianlong and his imperial concubines by Giuseppe Castiglione
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