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Shen Fuzong: the first Chinese visitor to Oxford



The Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre Building, Canterbury Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX2 6LU

Tel: 01865 274900


In 1687, the first recorded Chinese visitor, Shen Fuzong, arrived in England. During the visit, James II commissioned a portrait of Shen, still held in the Royal Collection, long recognised as one of the glories of James' reign and a key image in the west's fascination with China.
Giving a vivid, intimate insight into the mind of Restoration England, the subject of this ground-breaking exhibition is the 6 weeks Shen spent in Oxford with Thomas Hyde, Bodley's Librarian. Together, they inspected the collection of Chinese books, read and understood for the first time, as Shen wrote the title covers, to which Hyde added notes of contents in Latin - the one language they had in common.
In another world first, alongside the portrait and annotated books, the exhibition includes scraps of paper on which Shen gave Hyde what amounted to a crash course in Chinese culture. The exhibition portrays the first working encounter between Britain and China, bringing together for the first time loans from the Royal Collection, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, British Library and treasures from Europe's largest collection of pre-1700 Chinese books.

Open Tuesday to Sunday


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