Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Mirroring China's Past: Emperors, Scholars, and their Bronzes

Wang Tao 汪濤

Art Institute of Chicago

Publication Date:
March 6, 2018


In ancient China (2000–221 b.c.) elaborate bronze vessels were used for rituals involving cooking, drinking, and serving food. This fascinating book not only examines the cultural practices surrounding these objects in their original context, but it also provides the first in-depth study tracing the tradition of collecting these bronzes in China. Essays by international experts delve into the concerns of the specialized culture that developed around the vessels and the significant influence this culture, with its emphasis on the concept of antiquity, had on broader Chinese society. While focusing especially on bronze collections of the 18th and 19th centuries, this wide-ranging catalogue also touches on the ways in which contemporary artists continue to respond to the complex legacy of these objects. Packed with stunning photographs of exquisitely crafted vessels, Mirroring China’s Past is an enlightening investigation into how the role of ancient bronzes has evolved throughout Chinese history.

Table of Contents:

Emperors of the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties

Matter of things: how to read ancient Chinese bronzes / Tao Wang

Bronze-casting technology in the late Shang Dynasty / Su Rongyu

Interpreting the decoration of early Chinese bronze vessels / Sarah Allan

Lost archaeology: from antiquity to plaything / Tao Wang

Chen Mengjia and the reading of bronze inscriptions as historical sources / Edward L. Shaughnessy

Figuring things: early scholarship on Chinese bronzes / Jeffrey Moser

Mirroring the past: Emperor Qianlong and his bronzes / Tao Wang

Emperor Qianlong's four catalogues on bronzes / Liu Yu

One or two? : self-representation in Emperor Qianlong's portraiture / Lu Zhang

The Hezi You vessels: a case study in authenticity and forgery / Zhou Ya

Rivals and friends: scholar-collectors and their circles / Tao Wang

A legend retold: the Duanfang bronzes' journey to the Metropolitan Museum of Art / Zhixin Jason Sun

The past in the present: an epilogue / Tao Wang

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