Mariana Zegianini

Key information

BA(UBA), MA(UAL, Central Saint Martins College), MA (SOAS)
Email address
Thesis title
Making Real: Constructing Male and Female Subjectivities in Portraiture of the Late Ming and Early Qing China


Mariana Zegianini is a doctoral researcher at the School of Arts, where she is finalising her doctoral thesis on late Ming and early Qing portraiture. Mariana’s research is focused on the relationship between portraiture and notions of reality or zhen which circulated during this period. It also addresses issues of gender in relation to the portrayal and self-portrayal of women during early modern China.

Mariana has written on decoloniality and in 2017 organised the international workshop ‘Decolonising the Self: Representations of the Self in Art Theory and Practice across Cultures’ at SOAS. She has presented her research in international conferences, including the Association of Asian Studies (AAS) in 2022, the College Art Association (CAA) in 2020 and the Association for Art History (AAH) in 2019. She has also been invited to participate in workshops and symposia at the University of Chicago, the Shanghai Museum and at Zhejiang University. 

Mariana was a teaching assistant at SOAS where she helped to deliver the MA module ‘Theory and Practice in Art History’. She subsequently moved to The Courtauld Institute of Art where she was part of the team in charge of writing the syllabus for the new BA module ‘Nature and the City in Early Modern China’. At the University of Warwick’s art history department she also created a new module on early modern Chinese painting which she delivered entirely online. She returned to The Courtauld in 2022 where she is an Associate Lecturer. Mariana holds an Associate Fellowship from AdvanceHE.

While studying for an MA at SOAS, Mariana assisted in the digitisation of Japanese wood-block prints and scrolls from several UK museum collections. She also volunteered at the British Museum in the departments of Japanese Art and European Prints and Drawings where she worked in different projects related to the digital humanities. Mariana is also a professional graphic designer with over 15 years of commercial experience.

Mariana’s research has been generously supported by a studentship at SOAS, and grants from the Chiang-Ching Kuo Foundation of Taiwan and the Bei Shan Tang Foundation of Hong Kong.

Research interests

  • Early modern portraiture from China
  • Gender
  • Decoloniality
  • Digital humanities

Contact Mariana