SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Reclusion and Cultivation in Chinese Art

Online Specialist Art Course

Venue: Virtual Event

Mode of Attendance: Online Learning

Fees: Course Fee: £480 (GBP)


China has a unique history of celebrating people withdrawal from society. These recluses were often scholars who had either chosen not to or been prohibited from serving in the imperial bureaucracy. Instead, they inhabited rural spaces, where they focused on cultural, moral and spiritual cultivation.

This course explores the unique contribution these individuals made to Chinese art history, the material and visual culture that surrounded them in reclusion, and explores how this historic ideal of reclusion has been refracted in contemporary art. This course runs consists of six weekly lectures from 16 June – 21 July 2020. Each lecture is followed by an extended Q&A, moderated by either the course tutor or a guest speaker. The course including contributions from the leading scholars, museum curators, art dealers and auction house specialists. It is offered in series of weekly online lectures, followed by tutor led Q&As. The lectures explore themes of reclusions in paintings, calligraphy, scholars’ objects, and ceramics. The course concludes with an examination of the relationship between these historic objects and contemporary art. Join us to reflect on the resonance between this pre-modern cultural practice and our current global predicament.

Further Informtion

Reclusion and Cultivation in Chinese Art Online Course Handbook (pdf; 952kb)  


To book your place please contact:

Phone: +44 (0)20 7898 4445 / 4451 

Limited Free Places

A limited number of free places on Reclusion and Cultivation in Chinese Art are available to those shielding from covid-19, in line with SOAS’ core value of promoting equality and celebrating diversity. To gain one of these places please write to the SOAS Diploma in Asian Art, enclosing a copy of your UK Government shielding letter, or equivalent evidence from your local jurisdiction.


All times are in UK local time (GMT+1)
Tuesday 16th June

13.30 – 13.35 Registration and Welcome Dr Malcolm McNeill Dr Heather Elgood

13.35 – 15.00 Reclusion and Cultivation in Chinese Art: A Thematic Introduction Dr Malcolm McNeill
Q&As - Dr Heather Elgood

Tuesday 23rd June

17.00 – 18.30 The Artful Recluse: Painting and Poetry in Seventeenth Century China Prof Peter Sturman
Q&As - Dr Malcolm McNeill

Tuesday 30th June

13.30 – 16.00 Objects from the Scholar’s Studio: Reclusion and Material Culture Leon Wender (China 2000 Fine Art)
Q&As – Dr Malcolm McNeill

Tuesday 7th July

13.30 – 15.00 Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Digital object viewing session) Dr Joseph Scheier-Dolberg
Q&As – Dr Malcolm McNeill

Tuesday 14th July

13.30 – 15.00 Sakyamuni Emerging from the Mountains: A Chan/Zen Buddhist View on Returning to the World Dr Malcolm McNeill
Q&As – Dr Michelle McCoy

Tuesday 21st July

13.30 – 15.00 Old, New, Borrowed, Blue: The Guiguzi Guan Jar and Ai Weiwei
Two part lecture followed by an extended discussion Rosemary Scott Asia Chiao
Q&As – Dr Malcolm McNeill

Please note: Exact times may be subject to change before the start of the course