French Missionaries and Cultural Exchange Between China and France

In 1687, five French mathematicians were on a royal mission to China. Among them, Joachim Bouvet and Jean-François Gerbillon were invited by the Kangxi Emperor to stay in the court. From that same group, Jean de Fontaney, Louis le Comte and Claude de Visdelou were given permission to preach in China. Following this first mission, French Jesuits gradually became a significant missionary force. These individuals also made great contributions to the Sino-French cultural exchange. Through them, gifts were exchanged between Louis XIV and Kangxi. Furthermore, the missionaries introduced numerous French technologies to China. Their letters—such as the widely circulated Lettres édifiantes et curieuses—and publications that include Le Comte’s Nouveau mémoire sur l’état présent de la Chine made Qing China known to Europe, leading to significant influence on the waves of French chinoiserie and on the work of Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire and Montesquieu.


About the Speaker:
Shenwen Li is Professor in history and Director of the Centre d’études Québec-Chine at Laval University in Quebec, Canada. He specializes in the Jesuit culture, the multifaceted relationships between China and the Occident during the 17th and 18th centuries, and Ming and Qing socio-cultural history.

Language: Mandarin

Date and Time: 31 May, 2016 | 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Venue: The Annie Wong Gallery, Fung Ping Shan Building, University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, 90 Bonham Road, Pokfulam

Registration: Call 22415512 or apply online 

Seats are limited.