Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (Picturing History)

Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (Picturing History)

Craig Clunas

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 1861896689

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China is not simply a survey of sixteenth-century images, but rather, a thorough and thoughtful examination of visual culture in China's Ming Dynasty, one that considers images wherever they appeared—not only paintings, but also illustrated books, maps, ceramic bowls, lacquered boxes, painted fans, and even clothing and tomb pictures.

Clunas's theory of visuality incorporates not only the image and the object upon which it is placed but also the culture which produced and purchased it. Economic changes in sixteenth-century China—the rapid expansion of trade routes and a growing class of consumers—are thus intricately bound up with the evolution of the image itself. Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China will be a touchstone for students of Chinese history, art, and culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art of Living' by Gao Lian, and Zhang wu zhi, 'Treatise on Superfluous Things', by Wen Zhenheng. 8o These are texts that pay close and serious attention to the world of manufactured goods, specifying materials, decoration, even dimensions, but which by and large eschew illustration, despite the purely technical ease with which they could have been included. 'Eight Discourses' it is true does contain a small number of illustrations, including instructions for life-prolonging exercises and a plan

viewer. The latter is by contrast a context frequently ascribed to pornography in early modern Europe (with its books famously destined 'to be read with one hand'). Perhaps some books at least were read so in Ming China too. The Hua y£ng j£n zhen contains at least one scene of anal intercourse between a mature man and a young boy (illus. 80) suggesting as a potential viewing subject not so much the heterosexual couple as the empowered solitary male who would have access both within the home and

Anon, Landscape, ink and colours on silk, 16th-early 17th century. Kupferstich-Kabinett, Statliche Kunstsammlung Dresden. A 'workshop' painting of low standing, preserved by its early export to Europe. 2 Such theoretical positions are strong in their ability to explicate and historicize the canon of Chinese painting over the past millenium. They are not always as successful in accounting for all the pictures we have surviving from the Ming period, and not even for all of the paintings we have,

lacquer boxes, ceramics or textiles with such a subject, to parallel the way that in the fifteenth century something like the Lin Bu or Su Dongpo stories had straddled different types of picture-bearing medium, from scroll to screen panel. Part ofthe problem in pursuing this sort ofquestion further lies with the survival of evidence from the Ming period, and it is as well to be explicit about this. Objects in ceramic, metal and lacquer survive in some quantities. So do paintings by named artists.

'Master Fang's Album ofInk Cakes' of 1588. No insuperable obstacles of comprehension stood in the way of this appropriation, which made of Christianity a marketing edge in the ruthless world of late Ming luxury consumensm. The accounts sent back to Europe by Jesuits were designed to enlist support for the mission in difficult conditions, and to assure possible patrons of the successes which were already being achieved. Pictures played a major role in Jesuit accounts of their success. In the 1615

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