A Scroll with Chinese Silk – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A Scroll with Chinese Silk

Lara Blanchard, associate professor of art, was recently published in the 2009 issue of the journal Ars Orientalis. The peer-reviewed annual volume of scholarly articles and book reviews on Asian art and archaeology is co-sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Department of the History of Art and the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian Institution.  

Blanchard’s article, “Huizong’s New Clothes: Desire and Allegory in Court Ladies Preparing Newly Woven Silk,” looks at the political implications of a 12th century Chinese hand scroll produced for the Northern Song Emperor Huizong (r. 1101-25).

The painting, a copy of an 8th century scroll, depicts royal concubines in the process of making clothes; this scroll has been described as a representation of the rites of silk production in a palace, demonstrating women’s propriety.

Blanchard argues that Huizong’s painting uses love poetry in order to portray women yearning for the emperor; poets often used this situation as an allegory for the loyalty of advisors to a ruler. Therefore, Blanchard contends that the painting comments on Huizong’s own ability to rule, affirming his possession of the mandate of heaven.

Blanchard joined the HWS faculty in 2001, concentrating primarily on East Asian art. She received her bachelor’s degree in art history and mathematics from the College of William & Mary, and her MA and Ph.D in art history from the University of Michigan.