Dr Stephen Whiteman

Reader in the Art and Architecture of China

Stephen Whiteman’s research and teaching focuses on the visual and spatial cultures of early modern China in their global contexts. He is author and editor of eight volumes on art, architecture, and landscape in early modern and modern China and Southeast Asia, including the multiple-award winning, Where Dragon Veins Meet: The Kangxi Emperor and His Estate at Rehe (Washington UP, 2020). His most recent book, Landscape and Authority in the Early Modern World (Penn UP, 2023), a collection of ten essays published as part of 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.

His new book project, Under Heaven and Within the Seas: Mapping China Since 1000 (Reaktion, forthcoming) 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, for which he received a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for 2023–2024. With Hedren Sum, he is developing X-Sheds: An Interactive Art History of Experience, which explores the potential for deep modelling of multi-sensory environments as means for critically reconstructing spatial and sensorial experiences of the past. He is also a member of the British Academy-funded project Chinese Global Orders, which brings together 20 scholars of China across the humanities and social sciences to explore understandings of global order from Chinese perspectives.

He currently serves as an Elected Governor of the Courtauld and a Trustee of the Association for Art History, and is an Honorary Associate in the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney. He previously served as president of the Society of Architectural Historians Landscape History Chapter and Deputy Director of the Power Institute Foundation for Art and Visual Culture.

Research Interests

  • Connected histories of art and architecture in early modern China
  • Garden and landscape studies in Asia
  • Technologies of art and visuality in early modern China
  • Mobility and artistic transmission in the Indo-Pacific world
  • Digital and computational methods in art and architectural history.

Teaching 2023–2024

On research leave 2023–24.

PhD Supervision


  • 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 (CHASE DTP Scholarship/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 (Smithsonian Fellowship/Courtauld Scholarship).
  • Ji Yi, “Filial Piety in Practice: Empress Dowager Chongqing and Qing Court Arts.” The Courtauld Institute of Art (Courtauld Scholarship).
  • 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

  • Pu Lan, “Connections in the Making and Meaning of Bhutanese Wall Painting: Tango Utse, 17th–20th century.” The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2023 (co-supervisor, with Christian Luczantis [SOAS]).
  • 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).

Selected Research


Edited Volumes

Research collaboratives

  • Chinese Global Orders, London School of Economics and Political Science and the British Academy. PIs: Leigh Janco (LSE) and Hasan Karrar (Lahore University of Management Sciences). Funded by the British Academy Global Convening Programme (2023–2025).
  • Site and Space in Southeast Asia, University of Sydney, and National Gallery, Singapore. Co-PI, with Mark Ledbury and Adrian Vickers. Funded by the Getty Foundation Connecting Art Histories Initiative (2017–2022).
  • Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, University of Sydney, Institute of Technology, Bandung, and National Gallery, Singapore. Co-PI, with Mark Ledbury and Adrian Vickers. Funded by the Getty Foundation Connecting Art Histories Initiative (2014–2016).

Digital anthologies

  • Sussan Babaie, Fresco Sam-Sin, and Stephen Whiteman, eds., Trans-Asias: Early Modern Stories from The Courtauld. An on-going collaborative student research project published via Things That Talk. http://thingsthattalk.net/zone/courtauld-trans-asias (2020–)

Essays and articles