Courts and societies across the early modern Eurasian world were fundamentally transformed by the physical, technological, and conceptual developments of their era. Evolving forms of communication, greatly expanded mobility, the spread of scientific knowledge, and the emergence of an increasingly integrated global economy all affected how states articulated and projected visions of authority into societies that, in turn, perceived and responded to these visions in often contrasting terms. Landscape both reflected and served as a vehicle for these transformations, as the relationship between the land and its imagination and consumption became a fruitful site for the negotiation of imperial identities within and beyond the precincts of the court.
In Landscape and Authority in the Early Modern World, contributors explore the role of landscape in the articulation and expression of imperial identity and the mediation of relationships between the court and its many audiences in the early modern world. Nine studies focused on the geographical areas of East and South Asia, the Islamic world, and Europe illuminate how early modern courts and societies shaped, and were shaped by, the landscape, including both physical sites, such as gardens, palaces, cities, and hunting parks, and conceptual ones, such as those of frontiers, idealized polities, and the cosmos.
The collected essays expand the meaning and potential of landscape as a communicative medium in this period by putting an array of forms and subjects in dialogue with one another, including not only unique expressions, such as gardens, paintings, and manuscripts, but also the products of rapidly developing commercial technologies of reproduction, especially print. The volume invites a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the complexity with which early modern states constructed and deployed different modes of landscape for different audiences and environments. Contributors: Robert Batchelor, Seyed Mohammad Ali Emrani, John Finlay, Caroline Fowler, Katrina Grant, Finola O'Kane, Anton Schweizer, Larry Silver, Stephen H. Whiteman.
Stephen H. Whiteman is Reader in the Art and Architecture of China, The Courtauld, University of London.