Pictures for Use and Pleasure: Vernacular Painting in High Qing China / Edition 1

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A thought-provoking book for serious readers wanting a deep immersion in Chinese art history, social culture, and gender studies."—Library Journal

"Lavishly illustrated, this is an absolutely crucial book for all students, scholars, and connoisseurs of Chinese painting."—Choice

"A breakthrough in . . . the study of Chinese visual arts and material culture."—Oxford Art Journal

"Will undoubtedly serve as a starting point for all future studies of the subject."—China Review
International

"An important book. . . . Cahill draws attention to a category of paintings that have hitherto been little studied."—Caa Reviews

Choice

“Lavishly illustrated, this is an absolutely crucial book for all students, scholars, and connoisseurs of Chinese painting.”
Oxford Art Journal
“A breakthrough in . . . the study of Chinese visual arts and material culture.”
China Review International
“Will undoubtedly serve as a starting point for all future studies of the subject.”
CAA Reviews - Marion S. Lee
“An important book. . . . Cahill draws attention to a category of paintings that have hitherto been little studied.”
Choice
“Lavishly illustrated, this is an absolutely crucial book for all students, scholars, and connoisseurs of Chinese painting.”
Library Journal
After researching the subject for more than ten years, Cahill (Chinese art, emeritus, Univ. of California, Berkeley) offers new perspectives on a previously unappreciated genre: functional (that is, nonliterati) painting from the late Ming (late 16th to mid-17th century) through the High Qing of the Manchu dynasty (mid-17th to late 18th century). Professional studio-artists (as opposed to scholar-officials) produced these silk hanging scrolls, hand scrolls, and albums for clients in the burgeoning cities in the Jiangnan area of southeastern China. Some of the painters also traveled north at times to work in the imperial court of Beijing, so the refined academy style there and a northern school of figure painting also come into play. European influences are noted in the adoption of illusionistic aspects (e.g., the "looking through" interior scenes); and the fascinating subgenre of the beautiful-woman (meiren hua) type of painting is discussed. VERDICT Although the illustrations are in color, their small size makes it difficult to see the myriad life details depicted without a magnifying glass. A thought-provoking book for serious readers wanting a deep immersion in Chinese art history, social culture, and gender studies.—Anne Marie Lane, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520258570
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,299,128
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

James Cahill is Professor Emeritus of Chinese Art at the University of California, Berkeley. A recipient of the College Art Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art and the Charles Lang Freer Medal, an award established by the Smithsonian
Institution to honor distinguished career contributions in the history of Asian and Near Eastern Art, he is the author of many books including The Lyric Journey: Poetic Painting in China and Japan and The Painter's Practice: How Artists Lived and Worked in Traditional China.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

One Recognizing Vernacular Painting 1

Two Studio Artists in Cities and Court 31

Three Adoptions from the West 67

Four The Artists' Repertories 99

Five Beautiful Women and the Courtesan Culture 149

Conclusion 199

Appendix: Poem Zhou Qi Zhou, Qi 203

Glossary 205

List of Chinese Names and Terms 209

Notes 215

Bibliography 239

List of Illustrations 253

Index 259

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