Virtual Presentation and Q&A with Associate Professor of Art History Dawn Odell

Global Trade, Chinese Art, and Eighteenth-Century America  Presented by Associate Professor of Art History Dawn Odell Join Professor Dawn Odell to discuss a rich moment in the history of artistic engagement between China, Europe, and the United States by focusing on a remarkable figure, Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest (1739-1801). Although born in the Netherlands, van Braam spent the majority of his life travelling between Asia, Africa and the newly-formed United States. At various points in his life, van Braam was a travel book author, draughtsman, merchant, prominent member of the French-Dutch émigré community in early republican Philadelphia, and owner of a rice plantation in South Carolina. As an employee of the Dutch East India Company, van Braam lived for almost twenty years in Canton and Macao and served as a senior member of the Company’s last diplomatic mission to the Qianlong Emperor’s Beijing court. An ardent supporter of the American war for independence, van Braam became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1784 and twelve years later presented Philadelphia audiences with the first public display of Chinese art in America. Drawing on Dr. Odell’s extensive research, this presentation discusses van Braam’s art collection, including pieces only recently re-discovered in museum archives, and considers the ways that this collection lent credit to van Braam’s social and commercial ambitions. Although van Braam’s peripatetic life was in many ways extraordinary, the choices he made when displaying his art collection in Philadelphia tell us a great deal about larger commercial and artistic relationships between China and the early...