SOAS University of London

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

Professor Shane McCausland

MA (Cantab), MA PhD (Princeton), SFHEA
  • Teaching
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Shane McCausland
School of Arts

Head of the School of Arts

Department of History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Percival David Professor of the History of Art, Head of Department

SOAS China Institute

Academic Staff, SOAS China Institute

Executive Board

Head of Arts

The Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme

Programme Board Member, Outreach Sub-board Chair and Scholarships Sub-board Chair

Professor Shane McCausland
Email address:
+44 (0)20 7898 4705
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
By email appointment


Shane McCausland is an historian of visual arts and material culture with a focus on the painting and calligraphy produced in mid- and late-dynastic China. He is also a curator of the historical and contemporary arts of China. His work addresses the interpretation of aesthetic forms, traces, media and materials, and how these are contextualised in terms of visual and disciplinary debates. Themes in his research and teaching have included post-formalism, critical iconology and mediality; art and agency; artist oeuvres and development, including studio and workshop practices and selfhood; ceramics in China’s visual culture; collecting, connoisseurship and canon formation; didactic, narrative and figural art; transcultural dynamics and appropriation, notably under the Mongol empire across Eurasia; and Chinese calligraphy, paleography, intertextuality and visual literacy.

As an undergraduate at Cambridge University, McCausland read Oriental Studies (Chinese) before working at Christie’s Chinese department in London and on assignment in Hong Kong in the early 1990s. Entering the graduate programme at Princeton University in 1993, he trained in Art History with East Asian Studies under the Wen C. Fong. He curated his first Asian art exhibition, on Chinese landscape painting, at the Art Museum, Princeton University. He completed his doctoral thesis on the art of the southern Chinese polymath Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) during a fellowship in the Asian Art department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1999. Returning to the British Isles, he held a string of posts in London, as a postdoctoral fellow in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, then still at 53, Gordon Square in Bloomsbury (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 his 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 he organised at the British Museum in 2001. In 2004, he joined the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, under the directorship of Michael F. Ryan, as Curator of the East Asian Collections and later also Head of Collections. In these roles, he was involved in a range of projects, such as the ASEMUS Travelling Exhibition on portraiture and exhibitions at the Library itself, including one of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Codex Leicester’ from the Gates collection, and he curated the loan exhibition, ‘Telling Images of China: Narrative and Figure Paintings, 15th-20th Century, from the Shanghai Museum’.

In 2009 he returned to SOAS as a lecturer in Chinese art in the renamed Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, becoming Senior Lecturer in 2010, Reader in 2012 and Percival David Professor of the History of Art in 2015. He serves as a trustee on the Council of the Sir Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art. Since 2018, he has been Head of the School of Arts and a member of the SOAS Executive Board.

Loading the player...

Shane McCausland talks about the + and X motifs in the art of the contemporary abstract painter Ding Yi

Shane McCausland talks about the + and X motifs in the art of the contemporary abstract painter Ding Yi (b. 1962), whose exhibition What's Left to Appear he curated at the Long Museum (West Bund) in Shanghai in 2015.

Loading the player...

Professor Shane McCausland Inaugural Lecture


PhD Students supervised
  • Jennifer Chih-Chieh Chang, Intertextual Presentation of Individuality in Qing Biography Landscape: A Reinvention of Ming Wu School Sobriquet Painting (working title)
  • Alexandre Claude Ouairy, Hidden in Plain Sight: Contemporary Art Practices of Resistance in China, 2007-2018.
  • Chih-En Chen, The Origin, Development and Classification of Trompe L’oeil Porcelain in High Qing China
  • Elizabeth Reid, An investigation into the meaning and significance of the exhibitions of Chinese art at the Whitechapel Art Gallery between 1901 and 1934
  • Helena Cantone, Decolonising the Visual Archive of Salvatore Fiume (1915-1997): Italian Encounters with Postcolonial Africa
  • Maeve Nolan, Early Silk Road photography: A case study of how and why Dr. Maynard Owen Williams, Litt. D. (1888-1963) photographed the Silk Road during the Citroen-Haardt Trans-Asiatic Expedition (1931-1932)
  • Mariana Zegianini , The Global Portrait: Subject, Site and Temporality in Portraiture of the Long Seventeenth Century in China (working title)
  • Naama Eisenstein, Reshaping Ideals: Visualising the Genpei War (1180-1185) in Early Modern Japan
  • Yingbai Fu, Dressing up the Manchu Way: Visual Representations of Women’s hair and dress in China and Beyond, 1850s-1940s
  • Yuet Heng (Janet) Wong, The Public Disseminations of Chao Shao-an (1905-1998)’s Art and the Construction of Geographical Identities among Cantonese communities across Asia-Pacific, c. 1950s-2010s.

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
  • Marine Cabos, Seeing Through Landscape: French photographic archives of China (1840s-1930s)
  • Malcolm McNeill, Narrative Agency in 13th-14th Century Chan Figure Painting: A Study of Hagiography-Iconography Text-Image Relationships
  • Tian S. Liang 梁天爽, Remodelling Modern Chinese Art: The Agency of the Syncretism, 1908-1936
  • Angela Becher, China’s urban monumentality in contemporary fiction, cinema and art
  • Justine Qing Chen, Mosques of the Maritime Muslim Community of China: A study of the mosques in the south and southeast coastal regions of China
  • Charlotte Chin-chi YANG, ‘Canon Formation: The Painting of Xu Wei and the Daxieyi Painting Lineage’
  • Yang FU, ʻRitual Furniture from the Qing Imperial Mausoleum -- a Reinterpretation of a Miaojin Box Set from the Yongzheng Period (1723-35)ʼ

Note to prospective doctoral students

I tend to take one or two MPhil/PhD students each year. Because of the tight framework for doctoral studies in the UK system (3 years of ‘active research’ + 1 year for ‘writing up’), I prefer my doctoral students—who have come from China, Taiwan, Singapore, the UK and Europe — to have first trained under me by taking my courses and writing a 10,000-word dissertation as part of an MA programme at SOAS, e.g., MA History of Art and Archaeology of East Asia, 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 and facility with the theories and methods, especially formal analytical methods, current in the wider discipline of art history. The qualities that I look for in a prospective doctoral researcher 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; and academic integrity and judgement.


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 (2017) The Art of the Chinese Picture-scroll: Text/Image/Medium. London: Reaktion books. [Forthcoming]

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.


McCausland, Shane (2020) 'The Flight of the Dragon: Modernism in China and Art at the Last Emperor’s Court-in-exile'. Archives of Asian Art, (70) 1, pp 51-83.

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.

Edited Books or Journals

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 (2022) 'Wu Changshi (吳昌碩 1844–1927)'. In: Lovell, Julia and Harrison-Hall, Jessica, (eds.), Creators of Modern China: 100 Lives - From Empire to Republic, 1796-1912. London: Thames & Hudson. [Forthcoming]

McCausland, Shane (2020) 'The Art History and Material Culture of the Yuan Empire'. In: May, Timothy and Hope, Michael, (eds.), The Mongol World. London: Routledge Publishing. [Forthcoming]

McCausland, Shane (2019) 'Intermediary Moments: Framing and Scrolling Devices Across Painting, Print and Film in Chinese Visual Narratives'. In: Wagner-Durand, Elisabeth and Fath, Barbara and Heinemann, Alexander, (eds.), Image – Narration – Context: Visual Narration in Cultures and Societies of the Old World. Heidelberg: Propylaeum, pp 157-175.

McCausland, Shane and Blair, Sheila (2018) '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: John Wiley & Sons, pp 115-135.

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'. Hua guan [Views of painting]. Beijing: Peking University Press. [Forthcoming]

McCausland, Shane (2011) 'Chen Hongshou and His Workshop'. In: Ching, Dora C-Y and Murck, Alfreda and Silbergeld, Jerome and Smith, Judith G., (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.

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

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.

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, pp 466.

McCausland, Shane (2012) '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, (42).

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


McCausland, Shane and Liang, Tian S. (2016) 'Hong Ling: A Retrospective'.

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

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

McCausland, Shane (2008) 'Arts of the Book – East Asia'.


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


This list was last generated on Thursday, 26th May 2022, 12:59 Europe/London.