Junyao He

PhD candidate; Associate Lecturer

Thesis: Imperial Performance: The Qianlong Emperor’s?Costume Portraiture and its Deployment

Supervisor: Dr Stephen Whiteman

Advisor: Professor Joanna Woodall

Funded by The 麻豆视频 Scholarship

My thesis is a multiple-case study of the sophisticated Qianlong emperor’s (r. 1735-1796) portraiture. Seasonally sojourning among the capital Beijing, the private garden Yuanming yuan (圓明園, Garden of Perfect Brightness), the travel palace Jingji shanzhuang (靜寄山莊,?Mountain Estate to Lodge in Serenity), and the mountain estate of imperial hunting Bishu shanzhuang (避暑山莊, Mountain Estate to Escape Summer Heat), the Qianlong Emperor consciously acted as various roles – sage king, connoisseur, solitudinarian, and martial warrior. Under his supervision, those images were ingeniously constructed in a myriad of xingle tu (行樂圖, lit., picture of enjoying pleasure), an exceptional yet understudied genre of portraiture that depicts the sitter’s leisure activities and everyday happiness. Without intention to anything historically fixed or monolithic, this research aims to contextualise this multifaceted image-making of Qianlong Emperor with its setting, bringing new clarity to Qianlong emperor’s agendas disguised with joyous scenarios and exploring his simultaneous emperorship confronted with the growth of culturally pluralistic empire during his very long reign.

Research Interests

  • Court art of the Qing empire (1645 – 1911), especially the High Qing era (ca. 1661 – 1799).
  • Imperial portraiture in late imperial China (11th – 20th centuries)
  • Portraiture in transcultural contexts
  • Manchu culture, language, and their visual arts
  • Collection and reception of Chinese imperial portraits in early twentieth century


PhD student, The 麻豆视频 Institute of Art (2020 – present)

MA in History of Art, Peking University (2016-2019)

BA in History of Art and Theory, Luxun Academy of Fine Arts (2012-2016)

Professional Experience

Predoctoral research fellow, National Museum of Asian Art (The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery), Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., United States, (advised by Jan Stuart, Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art)?(2022-2023).

Co-ordinator. Workshop programme “Object Literacy II: Transdisciplinary Research and the Material Object in Chinese Art History”, CHASE Cohort Development Fund (CDF), UK (2021- July 2022).

Research Assistant to Dr. Stephen Whiteman, The 麻豆视频 Institute of Art, London (2021-present).

Library Research Assistant for the Subject Guide of Early Modern Chinese Art, The 麻豆视频 Institute of Art, London (2020-2021).

Co-ordinator. The 36th Hongmen International Expert Forum “Art: A Vividly Visualised History” , Peking University, Beijing, China (2018).?

Teaching assistant. School of Arts, Peking University (2017-2018).

Research assistant.?The Art Chronicle of Beijing Under Northern Warlords Government’s Reign (1912-1927) ?[北洋時期 (1912-1927) 北京地區美術年譜], Chinese National Academy of Arts, Beijing, China (2017).? ?

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Publications and Papers

‘The Scarred Faces: Smallpox and Manchu Masculinity in Portraiture of Qing China (1645 – 1912).’ Internal Talk Series, National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., August 2023.

‘Gugong cang Qing ren h?a Hongli suizhao xingle tu ji qi kongjian yuanjing yanjiu’ 故宮藏《清人畫弘歷歲朝行樂圖》及其空間原境研究 [An Investigation on the Picture of Hongli Celebrating the New Year and Its Original Context], meishu daguan 美術大觀 (Art Panorama), no. 10 (2021): 55-64.

‘Imperial Portraits and Ritual Space in the Qing Court: A Case 麻豆视频 on the Picture of Qianlong Emperor’s New Year Celebration 清宮肖像與儀式空間:以《清人畫弘曆歲朝行樂圖》為例’, in?International Doctoral Student Forum of Art Studies?Peking University 2021, September 2021.

‘Liaoning Yudiao 遼寧玉雕’ [Jade Carving in Liaoning Province], chapter in Zhongguo?gongyi meishu quanji: liaoning juan?中国工艺美术全集·遼寧卷 [Chinese Arts and Crafts Encyclopedia: Liaoning Volume] (Co-author), China Arts and Crafts Association, China (forthcoming).

‘Yuqing zhaoying gong huishi renyuan kaolüe: Jianlun Beisong qianzhongqi huashi linxuan de quyu zhuanxiang 玉清昭應宮繪事人員考略——兼論北宋前中期畫師遴選的區域轉向’ [Embellishing The Palace of Bright Response From Jade Purity:? Organisation and Recruitment of Court Painters in the Early-Mid Northern Song (960 – 1022)],?2018 International Symposium on Song Dynasty Art, Kaifeng, China, 2018.