In 1920, Liang Qichao wrote his Intellectual Trends in the Ch’ing Period, a work originally intended as a preface to A History of the European Renaissance by Jiang Fangzhen, but published as an independent study due to its unexpected length equal to Jiang’s text. Three decades later, in 1952, Liang’s eldest son Liang Sicheng published an article on Leonardo da Vinci to commemorate the Renaissance polymath’s 500th anniversary of birth. While the elder Liang’s book was received with great enthusiasm, the son’s article has been almost entirely forgotten. More perplexingly, the discussion of the Renaissance, an underlying theme in both Liangs’ writings, seems to have been either neglected intentionally or dismissed as irrelevant by scholars of Chinese intellectual history as well as architectural historians. A probe into the rationale behind such neglect reveals some persistent misinterpretations that have hindered our understanding of the Liangs’ intellectual vision for modern China.
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