Pictures for Use and Pleasure : Vernacular Painting in High Qing China

Pictures for Use and Pleasure : Vernacular Painting in High Qing China

Book - 2010
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University of California Press
In this groundbreaking book, James Cahill expands the field of Chinese pictorial art history, opening both scholarly studies and popular appreciation to vernacular paintings, "pictures for use and pleasure." These were works commissioned and appreciated during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by the non-elites of Chinese society, including women. Traditional Chinese collectors, like present-day scholars of Chinese painting, have favored the "literati" paintings of the Chinese male elite, disparaging vernacular works, often intended as decorations or produced to mark a special occasion. Cahill challenges the dominant dogma and doctrine of the literati, showing how the vernacular images, both beautiful and appealing, strengthen our understanding of High Qing culture. They bring to light the Qing or Manchu emperors' fascination with erotic culture in the thriving cities of the Yangtze Delta and demonstrate the growth of figure painting in and around Beijing's imperial court. They also revise our understanding of gender roles and show how Chinese artists made use of European styles. By introducing a large, rich body of works, Pictures for Use and Pleasure opens new windows on later Chinese life and society.

"This is an outstanding piece of work: timely, essential, authoritative, and original. Cahill throws light on obscure artists, emerging styles and regional traditions, unexplored aspects of cultural life, enigmatic iconographies, and questions of authorship and authenticity, leaving the reader richly informed and full of new ideas."--Susan Nelson, Indiana University

"Cahill brings the vast body of 'vernacular' painting into the legitimate venue of art historical criticism, giving connoisseurs, viewers, and readers a more capacious and accurate grasp of the world of Chinese pictorial art."--Susan Mann, author of The Talented Women of the Zhang Family


Blackwell Publishing
"This is an outstanding piece of work: timely, essential, authoritative, and original. Cahill throws light on obscure artists, emerging styles and regional traditions, unexplored aspects of cultural life, enigmatic iconographies, and questions of authorship and authenticity, leaving the reader richly informed and full of new ideas." Susan Nelson, Indiana University

"Cahill brings the vast body of `vernacular' painting into the legitimate venue of art historical criticism, giving connoisseurs, viewers, and readers a more capacious and accurate grasp of the world of Chinese pictorial art." Susan Mann, author of The Talented Women of the Zhang Family

In this groundbreaking book. James Cahill significantly expands the field of Chinese pictorial art history with the first scholarly account of paintings for "use and pleasure" during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, from the end of the Ming through the Qianlong period. These functional, so-called vernacular works were produced by professional urban artists for affluent patrons. Traditional Chinese collectors disparaged these works, which were intended as decoration or produced to mark a special occasion, and favored the "literati" paintings of upper-class amateurs. But today the often stunning vernacular images strengthen our understanding of High Qing culture. They bring to light the Qing or Manchu emperors' fascination with erotic culture in the thriving cities of the Yangtze Delta and revise our understanding of gender roles. They also demonstrate the growth of figure painting within and around Beijing's imperial court and show that Chinese artists made important use of European styles. Pictures for Use and Pleasure introduces a rich corpus of work, long ignored in studies of the period's art, and opens new windows on later Chinese life and society

Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, [2010]
Copyright Date: ©2010
ISBN: 9780520258570
0520258576
Branch Call Number: 759.951 CAHIL
Characteristics: ix, 265 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 27 cm

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