Stephen Whiteman

Stephen Whiteman

  • Strand, Somerset House

    WC2R 0RN London

    United Kingdom


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Stephen Whiteman’s research and teaching focuses on the visual and spatial cultures of early modern China in their global contexts. His recent work looks at connected histories of landscape and space in the Qing Dynasty as expressed through gardens, visual culture, and cultural memory. In Where Dragon Veins Meet: The Kangxi Emperor and His Estate at Rehe (Washington UP, 2020), he explores the construction and deployment of landscape as a medium for imperial ideology in the cosmopolitan early Qing court. His first book, Thirty-Six Views: The Kangxi Emperor’s Mountain Estate in Poetry and Prints (Dumbarton Oaks/Harvard UP, 2016), with Richard E. Strassberg, delves deeply into a transcultural garden album published by the Qing court in the 1710s. It received the John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies in 2017. His newest book, Landscape and Authority in the Early Modern World, a collection of ten essays forthcoming from Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture, argues the potential of connective histories of landscape for expanding our understanding of early modern space beyond nationally or culturally constrained discourses.

Other major areas of current research include histories of mapping and maritime cultures in China, site-based research in Southeast Asia, and digital methods in art and architectural history. His new book project, Under Heaven and Within the Seas: Mapping China Since 1000 (Reaktion, under advanced contract) draws on art history and cultural geography to explore the changing political and cultural stakes of landscape and territory in China from the perspective of a transcultural history of cartography. He is the Project Director and co-Chief Investigator for Site and Space in Southeast Asia, a collaborative research project exploring spatial histories of art and architecture in Penang, Malaysia, Yangon, Myanmar, and Huê, Vietnam funded by the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative. His first CAH project, Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, also organised with colleagues at the University of Sydney, appeared as a co-edited volume published by Power Publications and National Gallery Singapore in 2018.

On the digital front, he is working on several projects concerned with mapping, spatial construction, and the perception of space and environment in early modern architecture and art. Working with Hedren Sum, a information scientist at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, he is developing X-Sheds: An Interactive Art History of Experience, a project exploring the potential for deep modelling of multi-sensory environments as means for critically reconstructing spatial and sensorial experience in the past. The project is currently funded by a pilot grant from the Power Foundation’s Visual Understanding Initiative; an earlier phase was supported through the Getty Foundation and Wired! Labs’s Visualizing Venice project.

Stephen studied History of Art, History, and East Asian Studies at Brown University, and earned an MA in East Asian Studies and his PhD in Art History from Stanford University. His research has been supported by fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art and Dumbarton Oaks Library and Research Collection, as well as grants from the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Chiang-Ching Kuo Foundation, CAA, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Mellon Foundation, and the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies, among others. Prior to joining the Courtauld, Stephen was Senior Lecturer of Asian Art, Deputy Director of the Power Institute for Art and Visual Culture, and Associate Curator of Asian Art at the University of Sydney.



Research interests

  • Connected histories of art and architecture in early modern China
  • Visual culture in China, especially painting and print
  • Garden and landscape studies in Asia
  • Court arts in late imperial China (Song­–Qing)
  • Technologies of art and visuality in early modern China
  • Transmediality in early modern art
  • Mobility and artistic transmission in the Indo-Pacific world
  • Decentred histories of art and architecture
  • Digital and computational methods in art and architectural history.

PhD Students


  • Ricarda Brosch, “The Intervening Years: Court Painting between Fluorescence, Death and Revolution (1790s-1840s).” The Courtauld Institute of Art (CHASE DTP Scholarship).
  • Corrina Ellis, “An Edo-period provincial garden in pictures, poetry and prose: the case of Shukkei-en, Hiroshima.” The Courtauld Institute of Art (Sasakawa Foundation Scholarship).
  • He Junyao, “Imperial Performance: The Pictorial Fiction and Conceptual Reality of Emperor Qianlong’s Costume Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century China.” The Courtauld Institute of Art (Courtauld Scholarship).
  • Pu Lan, “Connections in the Making and Meaning of the Art of Bhutan and Tibet in the 17th and 18th Centuries: A Study of the Wall Paintings at Tango Monastery.” The Courtauld Institute of Art (co-supervisor, with Christian Luczantis [SOAS]; Ho Foundation Doctoral Fellowship in Buddhist Art and Conservation).
  • Su Wenjie, “Machines of Time, Towers of Knowledge: Miniature Architectural Spaces and the Design of Timepieces in Sino-European Encounters, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.” Art and Archaeology, Princeton University (Kress Predoctoral Fellowship advisor, 2020–2022; supervisor: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann [Princeton]).

Recently Completed

  • Chen Shuxia, “The Grey Zone: The Emergence of Self-Organised Photography Groups in Post-Mao Beijing, 1977–1988.” Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University, 2019 (co-supervisor, with Claire Roberts).
  • Minerva Inwald, ‘“Drawing on Each Other’s Strengths to Overcome Each Other’s Weaknesses”: Professional Artists, the Masses, and the Artistic Culture of the People’s Republic, 1962–1974.’ University of Sydney, 2019 (associate supervisor, with Andres Rodriguez).
  • Simon S. Y. Soon, “What is Left of Art?” University of Sydney, 2015 (associate supervisor, with Adrian Vickers).

Grants, Awards, Prizes

  • 2021–2023   X-Sheds: An Interactive Art History of Experience. Visual Understanding Initiative Pilot Grant, Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture, University of Sydney. With Hedren Sum (NTU).
  • 2017–2020 Site and Space in Southeast Asia. Connecting Art Histories Initiative, The Getty Foundation. With Mark Ledbury and Adrian Vickers.
  • 2017–2018 Sydney Digital Humanities Research Group. FASS Collaborative Research Scheme, The University of Sydney. With Francesco Borghesi, et al.
  • 2017 “Objects and Problems: Transforming Learning in Art History.” Educational Innovation Grant, The University of Sydney. With Mark Ledbury, et al.
  • 2014–2016 Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Modern Southeast Asian Art. Connecting Art Histories Initiative, The Getty Foundation. With Mark Ledbury and Adrian Vickers. 
  • 2012–2014 A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art

Other Appointments

  • Publications Committee, CAA (2020–)
  • Advisory Consultant, Sandcastle: A Malleable 3-D Mapping System for Pre-Modern Maps and Views, Duke University, (2020–)
  • Consulting Researcher, Building for Tomorrow Project, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, (2019–2021)
  • Hulsewé-Wazniewski Visiting Professor, University of Leiden (2019)
  • Advisory Board, Landscape History Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians (2021–2024; President, 2019–2021; Secretary, 2015–2019)
  • Minister’s Advisory Committee, Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney (2017–2018)
  • Editorial Committee, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art (2017–2018)
  • Field Editor, Asian Art History, (2013–2014)


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