Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China

Front Cover
Reaktion Books, 1997 - Art - 221 pages
The sixteenth century in China was a period of rapid and unprecedented economic expansion. The period also saw a parallel expansion in the sphere of cultural production, as a growing class of consumers of luxury goods benefited from the formation of one of the classic early modern consumer societies. Pictures were a major source of consumable luxury at this period; pictures not only in the form of independently circulating images classifiable as 'art', but also in the form of wall decoration, in books, prints, maps, 'pictures' on ceramics and lacquer boxes, on textile furnishings, and even on the dress of the prosperous. Artefacts that had previously been decorated with formal patterns, or with plants and animals only, now bore landscape scenes, representations of historical characters and incidents, and scenes from literature, often closely related to the world of the illustrated book. This impressively illustrated and accessibly written book is the first attempt to survey this vast array of images in all its aspects, providing a stimulating and innovative point of entry to Chinese history. Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China will be of interest to students of China's history and culture and to all readers interested in theories of visuality.

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The Work of Art in the Age of Woodblock
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About the author (1997)

Craig Clunas is professor of History of Art at the University of Oxford. He is the author of many books, including Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China and Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming, also published by Reaktion Books.

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