This paper explores the uneasy position of painting in an early twentieth-century Shanghai publication, the National Essence Journal (Guocui xuebao, 1905–11), published by the prominent and influential Society for Preservation of National Learning (Guoxue baocunhui). The publication is like international expositions and museums in peculiar ways; the Chinese paintings in it, devoted to the nation, are paradoxically invisible. In the article I explore how and why, establishing the ways in which painting was newly understood to matter in the modern era.

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