SOAS University of London

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

Shane McCausland

MA (Cantab), MA PhD (Princeton)
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Shane McCausland
Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Percival David Professor of the History of Art

School of Arts

Percival David Professor of the History of Art

SOAS China Institute

Academic Staff, SOAS China Institute

Professor Shane McCausland
Email address:
020 7898 4705
020 7898 4699
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Brunei Gallery
Office No:
Office Hours:
Wednesdays 3-5pm


An historian of visual arts and material culture, I publish mainly on the calligraphy and painting of dynastic China, but have also written about contemporary, Japanese and European arts. I am interested in interpreting artistic forms and traces, and in contextualising them in terms of visual and disciplinary debates. I have explored issues including artistic development, workshop practices, ceramic history and aesthetics, collecting and connoisseurship, narrative art, cultural interaction, formal analysis and visual literacy. I have authored articles and monographs, including one on the art of the Yuan-dynasty Chinese polymath Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) (Hong Kong University Press, 2010) but have also co-authored or co-edited volumes with scholars including Stacey Pierson, Matthew McKelway, Ling Lizhong and Yin Hwang.

As an undergraduate at Cambridge I read 'Oriental Studies (Chinese)' under David McMullen before working at Christie's Chinese department in London and on assignment in Hong Kong in the early 1990s. I won a scholarship to the Graduate School at Princeton University in 1993 and, moving to America and shifting into Art History with East Asian Studies, trained there under Wen C. Fong until 1999, finishing up my doctoral thesis on Zhao Mengfu during a fellowship in the Asian Art department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Along the way I curated my first Asian art exhibition, on Chinese landscape paintings at the Art Museum, Princeton University. In 1999 I returned to the British Isles, first to a string of posts in London - as a research and teaching fellow in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, then still at 53 Gordon Square (1999-2002); as a temporary lecturer in the history of Chinese art at SOAS (2002-03); and as a research fellow in the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC), based at SOAS (2003-04). During that time much of my research was geared toward the 'Admonitions of the Court Instructress' picture-scroll attributed to Gu Kaizhi (c. 344-c. 406) in the British Museum, the topic of a conference I organised at SOAS in 2001. In 2004, I joined the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, under the directorship of Michael Ryan, as Curator of the East Asian Collections and later also Head of Collections. In these roles, I was involved in a range of projects, such as the ASEMUS Travelling Exhibition on portraiture (with a study of Louis le Brocquy's portrait head of Bono), and exhibitions at the Library itself, including one of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Codex Leicester' from the Gates collection, and 'Telling Images of China: Narrative and Figure Paintings, 15th-20th Century, from the Shanghai Museum'.

In 2009 I returned to SOAS to a research and teaching post in the renamed Department of the History of Art and Archaeology. I was made Reader in the History of Art of China in 2012. During the 2012-13 session I was on sabbatical writing a general study of culture in Mongol China under the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) for Reaktion Books. I held one fellowship at the Graduate Institute of Art History in National Taiwan University during the autumn of 2012 and another at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the spring of 2013. I currently serve as a member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

**Note to potential doctoral students:** I tend to take one or two MPhil/PhD students each year. Because of the time limit on doctoral studies in the UK system (3 + 1 years), I prefer my doctoral students - who have come from China, Taiwan, Singapore, the UK and Europe - to have trained under me at MA level even if they already have a relevant qualification from elsewhere. Although my doctoral students usually work on China-related topics, I expect them to demonstrate interest in the discipline and method of art history beyond the East Asia region. The qualities that I look for include: visual acuity and the potential for a very high degree of visual literacy; composure in the presence of artworks; an ability to position oneself critically within the evolving global discourse of art history -- and to identify imaginative (and appropriate) interpretive strategies; sound sinological skills; academic integrity and judgement.


Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Angela Becher, China’s urban monumentality in contemporary fiction, cinema and art
  • Hao Liu, The purpose, operation and impacts of art investment of the British Rail Pension Fund’s collection of Chinese work of art from 1974 to 1989
  • Jiani Chen, Working title: Misty Flowers in a Floating World: The images of Courtesans in Ming Dynasty Nanjing
  • John Johnston, Jiangxi Landmarks on Jingdezhen Porcelain of the 18th and 19th Centuries with Special Reference to Tengwang Ge
  • Malcolm McNeill, Narrative Agency in 13-14th Century Chan Figure Painting: A Study of Hagiography-Iconography Text-Image Relationships
  • Marine Cabos, Seeing through landscape: French photographic archives of China (1840s-1930s)
  • Radu Leca, The Backward Glance: Concepts of 'outside' and 'other' in the Japanese spatial imaginary of the seventeenth century
Completed PhD Theses

Yin Hwang
The Depiction of War and Rebellion in the Print and Visual Culture of Late Qing China, 1884-1901

Shuchi Shen
Marketing the artist: the art of Qi Baishi (1864–1957) in the Peking Art World


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
Regional Expertise
  • East Asia
Country Expertise
  • China


Authored Books

McCausland, Shane (2014) The Mongol Century: Visual Cultures of Yuan China, 1271-1368. London: Reaktion Books.

McCausland, Shane (2011) Zhao Mengfu: Calligraphy and Painting for Khubilai's China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

McCausland, Shane and Ling, Lizhong (2010) Telling Images of China: Narrative and Figure Paintings, 15th-20th Century, from the Shanghai Museum. London: Scala Publications.

McCausland, Shane and McKelway, Matthew P (2009) Chinese Romance from a Japanese Brush: Kano Sansetsu's Chogonka Scrolls in the Chester Beatty Library. London: Scala Publications.

McCausland, Shane (2003) First Masterpiece of Chinese Painting: The Admonitions Scroll. London: British Museum Press.

Edited Books or Journal Volumes

McCausland, Shane and Liang, Tian S., eds. (2016) Hong Ling: A Retrospective. Taipei: Soka Art.

McCausland, Shane, ed. (2015) 丁乙 : 何所示 / Ding Yi: What's Left to Appear. Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe.

McCausland, Shane and Hwang, Yin, eds. (2014) On Telling Images of China: Essays in Narrative Painting and Visual Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

McCausland, Shane, ed. (2003) Gu Kaizhi and the Admonitions Scroll. London: British Museum Press.

McCausland, Shane, ed. (2001) The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies picture-scroll by Hironobu Kohara. London: School of Oriental and African Studies. (Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art. Occasional Papers, 1)

Book Chapters

McCausland, Shane and Blair, Sheila (2017) 'Visual Sources for the Mongol Empire.' In: Biran, Michal and Kim, Hodong, (eds.), Cambridge History of the Mongol Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Forthcoming)

McCausland, Shane (2016) 'Figure Painting: Fragments of the Precious Mirror.' In: Powers, Martin J and Tsiang, Katherine R, (eds.), A Companion to Chinese Art. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 115-135. (Wiley Blackwell Companions to Art History)

McCausland, Shane (2014) 'Exemplary Complicity: The Pictorial Lives of Han Court Beauties in Two Narrative Handscrolls of Mid-Ming Suzhou.' In: McCausland, Shane and Hwang, Yin, (eds.), On Telling Images of China: Essays in Narrative Painting and Visual Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, pp. 89-116.

McCausland, Shane (2012) 'Copying and Transmitting, Knowledge and Nonsense: From the Great Encyclopedia to A Book from the Sky.' In: Pearce, Nick and Steuber, Jason, (eds.), Original Intentions: Essays on Production, Reproduction and Interpretation in the Arts of China. Gainsville: University Press of Florida.

McCausland, Shane (2012) 'Visual Narratology in China and Japan around 1600 - a comparative study.' In: Green, Alexandra, (ed.), Rethinking Visual Narratives from Asia: Intercultural and Comparative Perspectives. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, pp. 41-59.

McCausland, Shane (2012) '"To achieve no closer likeness": Wang Zhenpeng and his Boya Playing the Qin.' In: Hua guan [Views of painting]. Beijing: Peking University Press. (Submitted)

McCausland, Shane (2011) 'Chen Hongshou and His Workshop.' In: Ching, Dora C-Y and Murck, Alfreda and Silbergeld, Jerome and Smith, Judith, (eds.), Bridges to Heaven: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Wen C. Fong. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 165-184.

McCausland, Shane (2010) 'Cong Jiangxi dao Riben: Yuandai yinyi huajia Luo Zhichuan ji qi "Xuejiang tu" 从江西到日本:元代隐逸画家罗稚川及其《雪江图》 [From Jiangxi to Japan: the Yuan recluse-painter Luo Zhichuan and his Snowy River].' In: Shanghai Museum, ., (ed.), Qiannian danqing: xudu Zhong-Ri cang Tang Song Yuan huihua zhenpin 《千年丹青——续读中日藏唐宋元绘画珍品》 [Masterpieces of ancient Chinese paintings: Paintings from the Tang to the Yuan dynasty in Japanese and Chinese collections]. Beijing: Peking University Press, pp. 275-288.

McCausland, Shane (2009) 'Empires at Odds: the Qianlong Emperor and Lord Macartney’s British Mission.' In: McCormack, Jerusha, (ed.), Thomas Davis Lectures 2008: China and the Irish. Dublin: New Island, pp. 14-25.

McCausland, Shane (2004) 'The Guan-Ge controversy in light of Song-Yuan aesthetics and connoisseurship.' In: Pierson, Stacey, (ed.), Song Ceramics: Art History, Archaeology and Technology. London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, University of London, pp. 29-47. (Percival David Foundation Colloquies on Art & Archaeology in Asia, No. 22)

McCausland, Shane (2003) 'Editor’s preface; (Ed.) Text and translation of Zhang Hua’s Poem, “Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies” (“Nüshi zhen”); “Like the gossamer threads of spring silkworms”: Gu Kaizhi in the Yuan renaissance; (Tr.) Wang Yao-t’ing, Beyond the Admonitions scroll: a study of the mounting, seals and calligraphy; (Tr.) Yin Ji’nan, Late Ming collectors and connoisseurs, and the making of the modern concept of “Gu Kaizhi”; Chronology of the Admonitions Scroll in the British Museum.' In: McCausland, Shane, (ed.), Gu Kaizhi and the Admonitions Scroll. London: British Museum Press. (Percival David Foundation Colloquies on Art and Archaeology in Asia)

McCausland, Shane (2003) 'Connoisseurship.' In: Pierson, Stacey and McCausland, SFM, (eds.), Song Ceramics: Objects of Admiration. London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, pp. 15-18.

Journal Articles

McCausland, Shane (2015) 'Seeing Well-being: A revisionist view of Yuan (1271-1368) painting.' Transactions of the Oriental Ceramics Society, 78 (2013-14). pp. 101-112.

McCausland, Shane (2014) 'Discourses of Visual Learning in Yuan painting - the case of Luo Zhichuan's "Snowy River".' Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, 42 ((2012)). pp. 375-405.

McCausland, Shane (2010) '"An archaeology of the spirit" – Louis le Brocquy’s Image of Bono (2003).' Virtual Collection of Masterpieces.

McCausland, Shane (2007) 'Kanō Sansetsu [1591-1651] and the Song of Everlasting Sorrow [Chōgonka].' Japan Society Proceedings (146). pp. 105-123.

McCausland, Shane (2005) 'Nihonga meets Gu Kaizhi: A Japanese copy of a Chinese painting in the British Museum.' The Art Bulletin, LXXXVI (4). pp. 688-713.

McCausland, Shane (2001) 'The Admonitions scroll: ideals of etiquette, art & empire from early China.' Orientations, 32 (6). pp. 22-29.

McCausland, Shane (2001) 'The Emperor’s Old Toys: rethinking the Yongzheng (1723-35) "Scroll of Antiquities" in the Percival David Foundation.' Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society (66). pp. 65-75.

McCausland, Shane (2000) 'Private lives, public faces—relics of calligraphy by Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), Guan Daosheng (1262-1319) and their children.' Oriental Art, XLVI (5). pp. 38-47.

Book Reviews

McCausland, Shane (2015) 'Review of Tamara Heimarck Bentley, 'The Figurative Works of Chen Hongshou (1599 [sic]–1652): Authentic Voices/Expanding Markets'.' China Review International, 19 (4). pp. 569-571.

McCausland, Shane (2014) 'Review of Craig Clunas, Screen of Kings: Royal art and power in Ming China (London: Reaktion Books, 2013).' The Burlington Magazine, CLVI (July 2014). p. 466.

McCausland, Shane (2002) 'Modernity and Subjectivity in China.' Art History, 25 (3). pp. 380-381.

McCausland, Shane 'Review of De-nin Deanna Lee, The Night Banquet: A Chinese Scroll through Time (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011).' Journal of Song-Yuan Studies . (Submitted)


McCausland, Shane and Liang, Tian S. (2016) Hong Ling: A Retrospective. [Shows/Exhibitions]

McCausland, Shane (2015) Ding Yi Solo Exhibition: What's Left to Appear 《何所示: 丁乙个展》. [Shows/Exhibitions]

McCausland, Shane and Ling, Lizhong and Shan, Guolin (2010) Telling Images of China: Narrative and Figure Paintings, 15th-20th Century, from the Shanghai Museum. [Shows/Exhibitions]

McCausland, Shane (2008) Arts of the Book – East Asia. [Shows/Exhibitions]


McCausland, Shane (2000) Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) and the revolution of elite culture in Mongol China. PhD thesis. Princeton University.

This list was generated on Mon Dec 12 00:32:12 2016 GMT.