The Washington Conservation Guild Meeting - Indian Ink? Chinese Ink Sticks Reinterpreted in Nineteenth Century Britain

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Thursday, 5 November, 2020 - 17:30

November 5th from 5:00-6:30 pm on Zoom
Social time 5:00-5:30
Meeting 5:30-6:30 pm

Tucked away in the Art Materials Research and Study Center at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is a nineteenth-century color box from the well-known British artists' supplier Charles Roberson & Co. The box contained a combination of artists' materials representing a fusion of Chinese and British art practices - ten color cakes, six brushes, a china tile and a Chinese ink stick. Nineteenth-century materials catalogues revealed that British artists' suppliers advertised Chinese ink sticks as "Indian Ink." Drawing on the narratives of the China Trade and the understanding of carbon black pigment materialities in the East Asian and European cultural contexts, this presentation will focus on exploring the ways in which the Chinese ink stick - a medium so indispensable to Chinese visual and literary culture - was reinvented as "Indian Ink" in nineteenth-century British art practices.

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