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The Art of Assemblage: Decorating for the Seasons and Status

Jan Stuart, Freer Sackler and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

November 5, 2019 · 4:30 pm-6:15 pm · 101 McCormick

Tang Center for East Asian Art; Department of Art and Archaeology
(Artist) Formerly attributed to Yan Liben; China; 16th century; Ink and color on silk; H x W (image): 160.3 x 106.2 cm (63 1/8 x 41 13/16 in); Gift of Charles Lang Freer

Lecture 1 in a two-part series on the Art of Assemblage: Interior Display in Ming and Qing China.

For a viewer of the Ming dynasty, a painting showing a woman hanging a print on a wall would have indicated unmistakably the time of year depicted, for only at the New Year would such a print have been placed on view. When certain images and objects were seen was planned with great care as part of the overall consideration given to how residential spaces were decorated. This lecture argues that arrangements of furniture and works of art in many different mediums were never random or casual, but rather were coordinated with seasonal changes and social occasions, as well as with the personal status and cultural values of the objects’ owners in the Ming and Qing. In addition, this lecture will highlight the continuity between interiors and garden spaces that was an essential consideration in the art of arranging and enjoying objects.

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