San Marino, CA
This major international loan exhibition explores the art, craft, and cultural significance of Chinese woodblock prints made during their golden age, from the late 16th through the 19th century. Bringing together 48 of the best examples gathered from the National Library of China, Beijing; the Nanjing Library; the Shanghai Museum; and institutional and private collections in the United States, “Gardens, Art, and Commerce in Chinese Woodblock Prints” features delicate works with painterly textures and subtle colors depicting plants, birds, and other garden elements alongside monumental accounts of sprawling, architecturally elaborate “scholar’s gardens.”
A highlight of the exhibition is The Huntington’s rare edition of the Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (ca. 1633–1703), acquired in 2014, and on public view for the first time. The exhibition unites several interests at The Huntington, the home of one of the most extensive collections of early printed books in the nation, various collections of prints by European and American artists, and one of the largest and most authentic Chinese scholar’s gardens outside of China. It tells the story of how, during the late Ming (1368–1644) and early Qing (1644 to 1912) dynasties, consumer demand for the printed word and image increased as merchants and scholars sought to display their taste in drama, poetry, literature, and art. Gardens also were central to a cultured life, appearing frequently in woodblock prints. Several centers of printing around the lower Yangzi River delta grew in reputation during the last decades of the Ming dynasty, and a golden age of Chinese pictorial printing began. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with curator essays.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website