Enfilade

Exhibition | Jean Cotelle (1646–1708): Gardens and Gods

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 24, 2018

From Versailles:

Jean Cotelle (1646–1708): Gardens and Gods
Grand Trianon, Château de Versailles, 12 June — 16 September 2018

Curated by Béatrice Sarrazin with Clara Terreaux

Jean Cotelle (1646–1708): Gardens and Gods, the first exhibition dedicated to the painter, will honour an artist who was very popular in his time, featuring some 120 works: paintings, drawings, engravings, miniatures, and sculptures from public and private collections. Jean Cotelle the Younger belonged to the generation of painters called upon by Louis XIV to decorate the Grand Trianon, a pleasure palace secluded from the hustle and bustle of the court.

For the Trianon Gallery, which overlooks the gardens and connects the Cool Room and the Garden Room, Cotelle was entrusted with the largest portion of the commission: twenty-one paintings. In order to adapt to the setting, he painted in vertical format, rather unusual for landscape painting, to create topographical representations of the Versailles gardens. He adorned the scenes with characters from mythology or fables arranged in two registers (earthly and heavenly), modelled upon the bucolic landscapes of Bolognese painter Albani.

This cycle, completed by three paintings by Jean-Baptiste Martin and Etienne Allegrain, represents a unique ensemble, providing insight into the king’s taste for his gardens which had recently been created by André Le Notre. Hidden by vegetation, the groves served as a backdrop for the portrayal of the loves and pleasures of the gods.

The exhibition will feature the twenty-four restored paintings following a restoration campaign that lasted several years. Along with the large format canvases, the fifteen gouaches created by the artist, masterpieces of miniature painting, will also be displayed. Additionally, a selection of lead sculptures will be included in the exhibition to evoke the decoration of the groves which have since disappeared, in relation to Cotelle’s paintings.

While the Trianon commission represents one of the highlights of Cotelle’s career, retracing the various stages of his work nevertheless reveals different aspects of his talent and his varied career in Saint-Cloud and Versailles as well as in Provence.

Jean Cotelle, Fountain Scene with Alpheus Pursuing Arethusa, 1689–91 (Château de Versailles, Dist. RMN/Jean-Marc Manaï).

Jean Cotelle the Younger was born into a cultured family in Paris in 1646. He grew up in the company of artists, especially painters, including his father Jean Cotelle the Elder, painter to the King, decorator and ornamental painter. He most likely received his early training from the portrait painter Claude Lefèvre. Jean Cotelle the Younger then visited Rome, where he stayed from 1665 until 1670 at his own expense.

His notable works from 1675 and the years which followed include miniatures to illustrate The Campaigns of Louis XIV as well as a large-format May for Notre-Dame in 1681 representing The Marriage at Cana. Cotelle also worked on other decorative commissions, in particular in Saint-Cloud where he created the jewellery cabinet as part of the decoration depicting the story of Venus and Aeneas.

The most important commission he received was a commission in 1688 from Louis XIV to decorate the Trianon gallery also called the Cotelle gallery. Cotelle painted twenty-one topographical representations of the gardens of Versailles, which he adorned with mythological and literary characters. At the same time, he carried out a series of twenty gouaches representing the Trianon Gallery in miniature.

In 1693, he left Paris for Provence, first making a stop in Lyon, where he created the decoration on the ceiling of the great hall for the Château de la Damette. From 1695 to 1700, he lived in Marseille and became the co-director of the opera with Duplessis. He also created ephemeral decorations such as The Entry of the Duke of Burgundy and the Duke of Berry into the City of Avignon. Jean Cotelle the Younger returned to Paris in 1703 where he continued his work for the Academy until his death in 1708.

Beatice Sarazin, ed., Jean Cotelle (1646–1708): Des Jardins et des Dieux (Paris: Liénart, 2018), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-2359062366, 39€ / $68.

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In preparation for the exhibition on Jean Cotelle, the Palace of Versailles launches a research notice for three works attributed to the painter: two gouaches and a drawing. These works disappeared from the public eye in the 1980s for two of them and soon after the year 2000 for the last one. However, reproductions and publications confirm that they exist (see the Château de Versailles website for images).

The works are:
La Toilette de Vénus, drawing
Vue du Château de Choisy du côté des parterres et la famille de Louvois, gouache
Eliezer et Rebecca au Puits, gouache

Once found, their identification would enrich the corpus of the artist and the value of these works, which could be displayed in the exhibition. Internet users are invited to spread this search as far as possible with the hashtag: #ExpoCotelle. People having information about these works can contact the Palace of Versailles through: cotelle@chateauversailles.fr.

New Book | Unfabling the East

Posted in books by Editor on June 23, 2018

From Princeton UP:

Jürgen Osterhammel, Unfabling the East: The Enlightenment’s Encounter with Asia, translated by Robert Savage (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018), 696 pages, ISBN: 9780691172729 (hardcover), $35 / ISBN: 9781400889471 (ebook).

During the long eighteenth century, Europe’s travelers, scholars, and intellectuals looked to Asia in a spirit of puzzlement, irony, and openness. In this panoramic and colorful book, Jürgen Osterhammel tells the story of the European Enlightenment’s nuanced encounter with the great civilizations of the East, from the Ottoman Empire and India to China and Japan.

Here is the acclaimed book that challenges the notion that Europe’s formative engagement with the non-European world was invariably marred by an imperial gaze and presumptions of Western superiority. Osterhammel shows how major figures such as Leibniz, Voltaire, Gibbon, and Hegel took a keen interest in Asian culture and history, and introduces lesser-known scientific travelers, colonial administrators, Jesuit missionaries, and adventurers who returned home from Asia bearing manuscripts in many exotic languages, huge collections of ethnographic data, and stories that sometimes defied belief. Osterhammel brings the sights and sounds of this tumultuous age vividly to life, from the salons of Paris and the lecture halls of Edinburgh to the deserts of Arabia, the steppes of Siberia, and the sumptuous courts of Asian princes. He demonstrates how Europe discovered its own identity anew by measuring itself against its more senior continent, and how it was only toward the end of this period that cruder forms of Eurocentrism–and condescension toward Asia—prevailed.

A momentous work by one of Europe’s most eminent historians, Unfabling the East takes readers on a thrilling voyage to the farthest shores, bringing back vital insights for our own multicultural age.

Jürgen Osterhammel is professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz. He is a recipient of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany’s most prestigious academic award. His books include The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century and, with Jan C. Jansen, Decolonization: A Short History (both Princeton). He lives in Freiburg, Germany.

New Book | Raffinesse im Akkord: Meissener Porzellanmalerei

Posted in books by Editor on June 20, 2018

Published by Michael Imhof and available from ArtBooks.com:

Claudia Bodinek, Raffinesse im Akkord: Meissener Porzellanmalerei und ihre grafischen Vorlagen (Petersberg: Imhof, 2018), 2 volumes, 768 pages, ISBN: 9783731904724, 135€ / $195.

Ohne grafische Vorlagen wäre die erstaunliche Themenvielfalt der malerischen Dekore auf Meissener Porzellan des 18. Jahrhunderts nicht denkbar. Die reich bebilderte Publikation führt erstmals anhand einer Fülle von Beispielen aus Barock, Rokoko und beginnendem Klassizismus vor Augen, wie kreativ die Meissener Maler Motive aus Kupferstichen, Radierungen und Zeichnungen in immer neue Dekore auf Porzellan übertrugen. Neben den bis heute erhaltenen Vorlagen im Manufakturarchiv diente auch die einstige königliche Kollektion im Dresdner Kupferstich-Kabinett als Vorbildersammlung. Beiden historischen Beständen sind gleichfalls eingehende Studien gewidmet.

New Book | Eighteenth-Century Wallpaper in Britain

Posted in books by Editor on June 19, 2018

From Routledge:

Clare Taylor, The Design, Production and Reception of Eighteenth-Century Wallpaper in Britain (New York: Routledge, 2018), 234 pages, ISBN: 978-1472456151 (hardback), $150 / ISBN: 978-1351021784 (ebook), $55 (ebook rental from $27).

Wallpaper’s spread across trades, class, and gender is charted in this first full-length study of the material’s use in Britain during the long eighteenth century. It examines the types of wallpaper that were designed and produced and the interior spaces it occupied, from the country house to the homes of prosperous townsfolk and gentry, showing that wallpaper was hung by Earls and merchants as well as by aristocratic women. Drawing on a wide range of little known examples of interior schemes and surviving wallpapers, together with unpublished evidence from archives including letters and bills, it charts wallpaper’s evolution across the century from cheap textile imitation to innovative new decorative material. Wallpaper’s growth is considered not in terms of chronology, but rather alongside the categories used by eighteenth-century tradesmen and consumers, from plains to flocks, from China papers to papier mâché and from stucco papers to materials for creating print rooms. It ends by assessing the ways in which eighteenth-century wallpaper was used to create historicist interiors in the twentieth century. Including a wide range of illustrations, many in colour, the book will be of interest to historians of material culture and design, scholars of art and architectural history as well as practicing designers and those interested in the historic interior.

Clare Taylor is Senior Lecturer in Art History, The Open University.

C O N T E N T S

List of Figures and Plates
Preface

Introduction
1  ‘Paper Hangings for Rooms’: The Arrival of Wallpaper
2  A Contested Trade
3  Imitation and the Cross-Cultural Encounter: ‘India’ and ‘Mock India’ Papers, Pictures, and Prints
4  In Search of Propriety: Flocks and Plains
5  Challenging the High arts: Papier Mâché, Stucco Papers, and ‘Landskip’ Papers
6  ‘Our Modern Paper Hangings’: In Search of the Fashionable and the New
Epilogue

Appendix 1: List of Principal Wallpapered Rooms Discussed, c.1714–c.1795
Appendix 2: List of Eighteenth-Century London Paper Hangings Tradesmen DIscussed
Bibliography
Index

New Book | Art and War in the Pacific World

Posted in books by Editor on June 19, 2018

From the University of California Press:

J.M. Mancini, Art and War in the Pacific World: Making, Breaking, and Taking from Anson’s Voyage to the Philippine-American War (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018), 344 pages, ISBN: 9780520294516, $65 / £50.

The Pacific world has long been recognized as a hub for the global trade in art objects, but the history of art and architecture has seldom reckoned with another profound aspect of the region’s history: its exposure to global conflict during the British and US imperial incursions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Art and War in the Pacific World provides a new view of the Pacific world and of global artistic interaction by exploring how the making, alteration, looting, and destruction of images, objects, buildings, and landscapes intersected with the exercise of force. Focusing on the period from Commodore George Anson’s voyage to the Philippine-American War, J. M. Mancini’s exceptional study deftly weaves together disparate strands of history to create a novel paradigm for cultural analysis.

J. M. Mancini is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History, Maynooth University, Ireland. Her publications include Pre-Modernism: Art-World Change and American Culture from the Civil War to the Armory Show and Architecture and Armed Conflict, edited with Keith Bresnahan.

London Art Week, Summer 2018 / Launch of Tomasso XXV

Posted in Art Market, books, museums by Editor on June 17, 2018

From London Art Week:

London Art Week, Summer 2018
28 June — 6 July 2018

London Art Week is a twice-yearly event, offering the best of pre-contemporary art in London’s traditional fine art district. From Ancient sculptures to Old Master drawings and post-Impressionist paintings, London Art Week offers visitors the chance to see, and buy, extraordinary works. For seasoned collectors as well as those simply curious to learn more about art, London Art Week dealers are always on hand and delighted to share their knowledge and expertise. Talks and events are scheduled throughout the week, delivered by some of the UK’s most distinguished art historians and curators. There is no tent: visitors have the luxury of discovering masterpieces within our beautiful gallery spaces, all situated within walking distance.

From the press release for Tomasso Brothers Fine Art:

Catalogue Launch of Tomasso XXV: A Celebration of Notable Sales
Tomasso Brothers, London, 28 June — 6 July 2018

For the summer edition of London Art Week 2018, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is proud to present a new publication, Tomasso XXV, a celebratory catalogue marking the many notable sales made in 25 years of activity. London Art Week runs from 29 June to 6 July 2018, and copies will be available at Marquis House, 67 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, the London gallery of Tomasso Brothers.

The catalogue features more than 50 works ranging from bronze sculptures to oil paintings, and dating from antiquity to the late Neoclassical periods, demonstrating the breadth and quality of works sold by Tomasso Brothers to museums and private collectors the world over. Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is recognised internationally for specializing in important European sculpture, thus works in wood, terracotta, marble, and bronze feature prominently; however, Dino and Raffaello Tomasso are also passionate about fields such as Old Master paintings and objets d’art, represented here by fabulous examples.

The historic sales illustrated in the catalogue range from distinctive sketches, such as Joseph Nollekens’s (1737–1823) terracotta rendering of a pensiero of Eve Bewailing the Death of Abel, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, to rare bronzes, such as the Pacing Bull from a ‘Rape of Europa’ group, executed in Padua around 1520–25, re-united with its original figure of Europa thanks to Tomasso Brothers, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; and from the powerful, such as the triumphant Julius Caesar carved in limewood by Giambologna (1529–1608), a statuette now known to be not only the earliest recorded work by the master but also the only surviving sculpture that he executed in wood (today in a private collection, Antwerp), to the intimate, such as Nymph Entering a Bath by Richard James Wyatt (1795–1850) one of the foremost British heirs of Canova, which sold last year from Tomasso Brothers’ Canova and his Legacy exhibition to the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.

Other highlights in the catalogue are a pair of portraits by the master of miniatures Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) depicting Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720–1788) and Prince Henry Benedict Stuart (1725–1807) which, subsequent to their presentation and sale (to a private collection, Germany) by Tomasso Brothers at TEFAF 2015, were shown in the Liotard exhibition at London’s Royal Academy, 2015/2016; a white marble Farnese type bust of Emperor Caracalla by Joseph Claus (1718–1788), a milestone in the development of early Neoclassicism in Rome and a signature work by one of the most accomplished German sculptors of the eighteenth century, now with the Saint Louis Art Museum; and a high-relief, boxwood panel by Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721), a magnificent demonstration of sculptural bravura on a reduced scale and one of the earliest known works by Gibbons, who is widely considered to be Britain’s greatest woodcarver. As attested by the presence of the coat of arms of the Barwick family from Yorkshire, which is visible on a harp in the foreground, the panel, likely carved in York (where Gibbons trained under John Etty after arriving from Rotterdam around 1667) now resides at Fairfax House Museum, York, United Kingdom.

The catalogue also illustrates some major rediscoveries by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, including The Triumph of Autumn by Jacob Hoefnagel (1573–1632/35), an exquisite oil on copper, signed and dated 1605, painted in Rome for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612), and The Death of Saint Peter Martyr by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo (c.1480–c.1548), a protagonist of Venetian Renaissance painting, renowned for the hushed brilliance of his palette and uniquely atmospheric quality of his compositions, now in the Art Institute of Chicago.

New Publication | The RA Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018

Posted in books, resources by Editor on June 16, 2018

Readers will likely have already heard about this amazing publication from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, but I’m glad to join the chorus of fans! (Disclosure: I provided entries for 1823 and 1846). If you have trouble navigating with Firefox, try another browser (it works beautifully on an iPhone). The brief essays are wide-ranging and full of surprises. In addition, it’s difficult to overestimate the value of freely available digital, searchable versions of the catalogues for all 250 years. There must also be wonderful teaching possibilities! CH

From the Mellon Centre:

Hallett, Mark, Sarah Victoria Turner, Jessica Feather, Baillie Card, Tom Scutt, and Maisoon Rehani, eds., The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018 (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2018), https://www.chronicle250.com.

A major new, free to access digital publication reveals the hidden stories from the entwined histories of British art and the Royal Academy, marking the 250th anniversary of the world’s longest-running annual display of contemporary art.

Since 1769, more than 40,000 contemporary artists have shown more than 300,000 works at the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition. In time for this year’s show (opening on 12 June), the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art has released The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018. This open access digital publication brings together artwork, stories, and data spanning 250 years of the exhibition’s history.

Lively year-by-year essays examining key artists, artworks, and events from each exhibition are accompanied by a complete set of digitised and searchable catalogues chronicling the history of the annual event from 1769 to the present day. It contains 250 contributions from over 90 experts—including artists, critics, curators, and art historians—and is intended to be a permanent research resource for anyone interested the history of British art.

The online publication complements the exhibition The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition, on view at the Royal Academy from 12 June until August 19.

Exhibition | Splendours of the Subcontinent

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 15, 2018

Payag, Jahangir Presents Prince Khurram with a Turban Ornament (12 October 1617), detail, 1656–57 (London: Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 1005025.an), from the Padshahnama (‘Book of Emperors’), an illuminated manuscript recording the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah-Jahan, which was sent to George III by the ruler of Awadh in 1799. More information on the Christian iconography of the wall paintings is available from the Royal Collection website

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Press release (7 June 2018) from the Royal Collection Trust:

Splendours of the Subcontinent: Four Centuries of South Asian Paintings and Manuscripts
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, 8 June — 14 October 2018

Curated by Emily Hannam

Two exhibitions at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace bring together some of the finest examples of craftsmanship and literary and artistic production from the Indian subcontinent. Both are drawn entirely from the Royal Collection, which contains one of the world’s greatest and most wide-ranging collections of material from the region. Exploring the long-standing relationship between the British Monarchy and South Asia, Splendours of the Subcontinent: Four Centuries of South Asian Paintings and Manuscripts presents 150 works from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, most of which are on public display for the first time. In the complementary exhibition Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875–6, gifts given to Albert Edward, Prince of Wales go on display in London for the first time in 130 years.

Indian School, Kurma, the Second Incarnation of Vishnu, ca 1790, 41 × 27 cm, page dimensions (Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 1005115.e).

Since the early 17th century, diplomatic gift-giving has played a crucial role in the development of the relationship between the British Monarchy and rulers of South Asia. Among the most important gifts received from the subcontinent is the Padshahnama (‘Book of Emperors’), an illuminated manuscript from 1656–57 recording the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah-Jahan, sent to George III by the ruler of Awadh in 1799. Ten paintings from the Padshahnama, the only contemporary illustrated imperial volume to survive, are shown in the exhibition.

The Khamsa (‘Quintet’) of Nava’i, 1492, and the Gulistan (‘Rose Garden’) of Sa’di, 1584, also presented to George III, are among the finest examples of manuscripts that combine intricate calligraphy with exquisite illuminations. Sacred religious texts were also presented as gifts, including the 3.5m-long Quran Scroll, thought to have been given to George IV by one of the rulers of the Carnatic. All 114 chapters of the Quran are written on the scroll’s 5cm-wide surface in a miniscule naskh script, known as ghubar (‘dust’).

Queen Victoria acquired many South Asian books and manuscripts, including a volume of her own published journals, The Queen’s Travels in Scotland and Ireland, translated into Hindi by the Maharaja of Benares. Victoria’s interest in South Asian culture continued throughout her life, and her studies of the Hindustani language, undertaken in her seventies with her Indian secretary Abdul Karim, are recorded in her Hindustani diaries, which are shown in the exhibition with her Hindustani phrasebook.

Less well known are the paintings and manuscripts given to, and bought by, King George V and Queen Mary during their two tours of South Asia in the early 20th century. The King and Queen acquired contemporary works, such as Queen Tissarakshita, 1911, by Abanindranath Tagore, founder of the Bengal School of Art, as well as historic paintings reflecting the diverse cultures, history and religions of South Asia. These include a series of 16 paintings from the Pahari region, c.1775–90, depicting the story of the boy Prahlada as told in the seventh book of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the great Hindu sacred texts.

King George V’s father, King Edward VII, was only the second member of the royal family to visit the subcontinent, undertaking a four-month tour in 1875–76 when Prince of Wales. Travelling almost 10,000 miles and meeting more than 90 local rulers in an effort to establish personal and diplomatic links, the Prince was presented with over 2,000 examples of Indian design and craftsmanship as part of the traditional exchange of gifts. The visit gave the Prince the opportunity to experience first-hand the magnificence of the Indian courts. Many of the gifts he received were ceremonial items connected to courtly customs, such as a pair of enamelled peacock feather fans, which play an important role in the spectacle of a durbar (audience). A ten-piece gold service, given by the Maharaja of Mysore, contains an attardan (perfume holder), rosewater sprinklers and a paandan  (betel-nut holder), items associated with welcoming guests to an Indian court.

Traditional arms and armour form the largest group of gifts received by the Prince. These presentation pieces, intended to display their maker’s skill and creativity, include a dagger incorporating loose pearls that travel along a channel in the blade when tilted, and a gold punch dagger embellished with rubies and emeralds, fitted with a single flintlock pistol on both sides of the blade. Enamelled jewellery and decorative items from Jaipur were highly sought after by European visitors. An enamelled gold and diamond perfume holder, presented by Ram Singh II, Maharaja of Jaipur, took five years to produce. It opens like a lotus flower to reveal a hidden cup and cover, and is decorated with scenes of Jaipur’s great palaces.

The Prince recognised the significant cultural and artistic value of the gifts he had received. On his return to Britain he made arrangements for the items to be placed on public display, first at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum) and then at the Bethnal Green Museum, followed by exhibitions in Paris, Copenhagen, and across the UK. Between 1876 and 1880 more than two million people in Britain alone saw the collection, which brought the wonders of Indian art to the British public and played an instrumental role in the intertwined narrative of British and Indian design.

Published by the Royal Collection Trust, catalogues for the two exhibitions are distributed in the USA and Canada by The University of Chicago Press:

Kajal Meghani, Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India, 1875–6 (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2017), 200 pages, ISBN: 9781909741423, $40.

Emily Hannam, Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2018), 256 pages, ISBN 978-1909741454, £30 / $60.

The Royal Library, Windsor Castle, is home to one of the most important collections of South Asian paintings and manuscripts in the world. This publication brings together highlights of these superb works, many of which have never before been publically displayed or published. From dazzling Mughal poetic texts to modern masterpieces, they span a geographical expanse from Kashmir to Kerala and for a period of more than 400 years.

This publication presents new scholarship exploring the history of how these works entered the Royal Collection, tracing the long-standing relationship between the British Crown and South Asia. Beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched, Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent provides a fascinating insight into his rich and hither-to underexplored aspect of the Royal Collection.

Emily Hannam is Assistant Curator of Islamic and South Asian Collections, Royal Collection Trust. She curated Splendors of the Subcontinent: Four Centuries of South Asian Paintings and Manuscripts at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, and featured on the BBC series Art, Passion and Power. She holds degrees in art history from the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, specialising in the art of the book in South Asia.

New Book | China: A History in Objects

Posted in books by Editor on June 15, 2018

From Thames & Hudson:

Jessica Harrison-Hall, China: A History in Objects (London: Thames & Hudson, 2018), 352 pages, ISBN: 978-0500519707, $40.

This illustrated introduction to the history of China offers a fresh understanding of China’s progress from the Neolithic age to the present. Told in six chapters arranged chronologically, through art, artifacts, people, and places, and richly illustrated with expertly selected objects and artworks, it firmly connects today’s China with its internationally engaged past. From the earliest archaeological relics and rituals, through the development of writing and state, to the advent of empire, the author charts China’s transformation from ancient civilization into the world’s most populous nation and influential economy, offering historical insights and cultural treasures along the way. This accessible book presents an eclectic mix of materials including Chinese theater, the decorative arts, costume, jewelry, and furniture-making, running through to the most recent diffusion of Chinese culture.

Jessica Harrison-Hall is Head of the China Section, Curator of Later China, Vietnam, and the Sir Percival David Collection of Chinese Ceramics at the British Museum, London.

New Book | Luxurious Networks

Posted in books by Editor on June 14, 2018

I’m a year late, but in the event that it might still comes as news to some readers, from Stanford UP:

Yulian Wu, Luxurious Networks: Salt Merchants, Status, and Statecraft in Eighteenth-Century China (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 2017), 320 pages, ISBN: 9780804798112, $65.

From precious jade articles to monumental stone arches, Huizhou salt merchants in Jiangnan lived surrounded by objects in eighteenth-century China. How and why did these businessmen devote themselves to these items? What can we learn about eighteenth-century China by examining the relationship between merchants and objects? Luxurious Networks examines Huizhou salt merchants in the material world of High Qing China to reveal a dynamic interaction between people and objects. The Qianlong emperor purposely used objects to expand his influence in economic and cultural fields. Thanks to their broad networks, outstanding managerial skills, and abundant financial resources, these salt merchants were ideal agents for selecting and producing objects for imperial use. In contrast to the typical caricature of merchants as mimics of the literati, these wealthy businessmen became respected individuals who played a crucial role in the political, economic, social, and cultural world of eighteenth-century China. Their life experiences illustrate the dynamic relationship between the Manchu and Han, central and local, and humans and objects in Chinese history.

Yulian Wu is Assistant Professor of History at the University of South Carolina.

C O N T E N T S

Introduction: Merchant culture in the Material World of Eighteenth-Century China
1  Courting the Court
2  Furnishing the Court
3  Collecting as a ‘Collector’
4  Luxury and Lineage
5  Materializing Morality
Conclusion: Cultured and Cosmopolitan Men (tongren): Objects, Merchants, and the Manchu Court in High Qing China