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Our Lady of Guanganmen

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The early decades of the twentieth century in China saw the rise of many movements calling for both reform and revolution. These movements touched all facets of society, from military training colleges to private art schools. The field of art was one domain where the role of China’s great cultural tradition clashed with the reformers’ desire for modernization in all things. The Catholic Church in China was also undergoing much change as it strove to be more representative of the millions of Chinese in its midst, even as this brought the church communities into conflict with the wishes of the foreign missionaries leading them. Higher education was one area in which this reform of the church took place, with the art department of the Catholic University of Peking, Furen University, being influential in the expression of such reform. Graduates and teachers of this art department active at a workshop in the Beijing district of Guanganmen sought to develop Chinese Catholic visual imagery, picturing such age-old Christian stories of the visit of the magi and the annunciation of the angel Gabriel in new and beautiful ways.


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