In 1715 a lowly Jesuit brother, Giuseppe Castiglione, arrived in China as a missionary and artist. Once a wild orphan, his life had been transformed by joining the Society of Jesus. In China, he was given the name, Lang Shi Ning, a name that is rewned to this day. The Kang Xi emperor, already elderly and frail, rejected Castiglione's first oil painting as too Western and ordered him to learn the techniques of Chinese painting. Through a fortuitous introduction, Castiglione met Wu Yu, an elderly, celebrated artist. With Wu Yu's guidance, he gained a foundation in Chinese language, culture and art that changed him forever. He quickly became an extraordinary painter, combining Chinese materials and subject matter with Western colouring and perspective. Castiglione made friendships among a wide range of Chinese and Jesuits that impacted greatly on his life in China. His story was interwoven with that of 18th century China encompassing floods, famine, foot binding, castration, struggles over succession, and war. He served as a royal painter to the three most important Qing dynasty emperors but was reminded throughout his 50 years in China, that friendship was as fraught with danger as enmity. Many friends were executed or exiled often putting Castiglione's life in danger and he made one life-long enemy of a eunuch who schemed for many years to exact revenge. Ultimately protected by Qian Long, who adored him, Castiglione was enbled and named architect for western palaces and fountains in the Summer Palace. The result of collaboration between Chinese and American authors and enriched by insight into both cultures, Vermillion Ink is the dramatic and touching story of a man of extraordinary strength and conviction. David Su Li-Qun and Diana Gore have penned a moving historical vel about a real-life artist and Catholic missionary who managed to straddle two cultures during an important era of Chinese history, leaving behind an artistic legacy that continues to inspire today.
Diana Gore received a bachelor's in Chinese language and culture, and a master's in business administration. She worked as an international trade banker for several years, which took her to South America, Asia and Europe. She lives in London and has studied the Chinese language for almost 40 years. David Su Liqun worked at the School of Oriental and African Studies University of London for 20 years, and is now Founder and Director of Meridian Chinese Studies in the United Kingdom. He worked as an actor, playwright, novelist and screenwriter before immigrating to the UK with his wife and son in 1984.