Image of Detail from handscroll, Spring Festival on the River, by Zhang Zeduan.
Detail from the handscroll, Spring Festival on the River, by Zhang Zeduan. Northern Song dynasty, early 12th century. Palace Museum, Beijing.

Twelfth-century life in the Song capital: Zhang Zeduan's 'Spring Festival on the River'

17 May 2022 17.00 - 18.30
Add to Calendar17/05/2022 17:0017/05/2022 18:30UTCTwelfth-century life in the Song capital: Zhang Zeduan's 'Spring Festival on the River' seminarfalseDD/MM/YYYY15Jesus Collegeevent_11568confirmed
Virtual seminar

Professor Roderick Whitfield, Percival David Professor, Emeritus, SOAS, University of London, will deliver a lecture on the handscroll by Zhang Zeduan, 'Spring Festival on the River'. The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session.

Since its rediscovery in 1954, Zhang Zeduan's Qingming shanghe tu (literally: Going up the River on the Qingming Festival) has fascinated everyone who has seen it. This lecture will introduce the scroll and its subject, the Bian canal and the Eastern Capital, as an example of the handscroll form in the Northern Song dynasty, together with some of the information about it that has emerged since the lecturer's doctoral dissertation (Princeton, 1965).

Roderick Whitfield, Percival David Professor, Emeritus, was educated at home and King Edward's School, Birmingham. From 1955 to 1957 he studied modern Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, then classical Chinese at Cambridge University with Denis Twitchett and Cheng Te-k'un, graduating in 1960. From 1960 to 1965 he studied Chinese Art and Archaeology at Princeton University with Professor Wen Fong and Professor Shimada Shujirõ. His dissertation topic was Zhang Zeduan’s Spring Festival on the River, the subject of this lecture.  

After a further year at Princeton as Lecturer and assistant to Peter Swann in setting up the Asian Gallery of the rebuilt Princeton Art Museum, Roderick Whitfield returned to St John's College, Cambridge as Research Fellow. In 1968 he was appointed Assistant Keeper in the Department of Oriental Antiquities (now Department of Asia) at the British Museum, leaving in 1984 to be Head of the Percival David Foundation and Professor of Chinese and East Asian art.

A Visiting Research Fellow at the Dunhuang Academy and the Palace Museum, Beijing, Professor Whitfield's research interests and publications include Chinese traditional painting, Buddhist art from Dunhuang and other cave-temple sites, Korean art and the conservation of East Asian paintings.

This is one of the lectures in the on-going China Centre Seminar series, hosted by the China Centre, Jesus College. The lectures, given by eminent speakers, cover a broad range of topics and disciplines.


This is a virtual seminar. Attendance is free. Advance booking is required by emailing:  Priority will be given to members of Jesus College and the University of Cambridge.