Detail of bird eating fruit, Painting 2, Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting, ca. 1633–1703, woodblock-printed book mounted as album leaves, ink and colors on paper. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Gardens in Chinese Art –Asian Art Themes

With our upcoming auction featuring many ceramic and painting works depicting the venerable and beautiful tradition of gardens in Chinese art we wanted to share Karbury’s love of the traditional Chinese garden. The garden brings together the three perfections: calligraphy, poetry and painting in a truly wondrous way, exhibited in ceramics, porcelains, paintings, and more.

Gardens and the depiction of their beauty in art and literature have long been an important part of Chinese culture, particularly among the elite. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as early as the Zhou dynasty enormous parks were maintained for hunting and entertainment while the Han dynasty had a predilection for collecting unusual fauna and flora. As well, gardens were regarded as a reflection of their owner’s taste and character. From the 12th century, the Suzhou region of China earned a stellar reputation for amazing gardens that thrived because of lovely climates and a rich local economy. Even a private garden is meant to give the feeling of being in the greater outdoors, a place of adventure and contemplation. Smaller plants represent forests –pools larger expansive rivers and rock formations evoke great vertical mountains. 

A beautiful Ming dynasty woodblock print on paper, circa 1633, Bird and Bamboo / Ten Bamboo Studio Collection of Calligraphy and Painting; 十竹齋書畫譜; Shizhuzhai shuha pu From the collection of The British Museum.

View of book Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (Shizhuzhai shuhua pu): Volume 7, 1625. From the collection of the Harvard Museum of Art.

Chinese gardens have long been the space of refuge for scholars and poets. This tradition has been beautifully preserved in woodblocks from painting manuals such as the 17th century Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting and the Mustard Seed Garden Painting Manual, 1679.

Wang Yuanqi Wanfchuan Villa, 1711 Qing Dynasty handscroll ink and color on paper, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, Alfred Jafar Photographer

Want to visit an amazing Chinese garden in the United States? Try the Huntington ... where you can find one of the largest traditional gardens outside of the mainland, the stunning Garden of Flowing Fragrance, Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園

In this place of extraordinary visual arrangement, we see many elements of creativity: literature, beautiful architectural motifs, plant cultivation and an admiration of the natural world. Bodies of water, arrangements of rocks, and local flora as well come together in this poem of a place.

One of a Pair of Chair Strips with Auspicious Patterns 18th century, Qing Dynasty, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Huntington recently closed its fabulous show “Gardens, Art, and Commerce in Chinese Woodblock Prints but you can learn more not only about the exhibit but the tradition of the Chinese garden, art and tradition in this very special video showing highlights from the exhibit and a lovely talk by the co-curator June Li as well as views of the book Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting (c.1633-1703).

 Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Calligraphy and Painting from The Huntington on Vimeo.

Spring Willow, Huntington, Andy Sae, Photographer

Still want to learn about this amazing tradition and see beautiful pictures? Visit the Huntington's blog. Want more? You can also visit the Seattle Chinese Garden, and enjoy the extraordinary Peony festival open from April 8-9th, 2017 or the Lau Su Garden, Portland. Another gem is the Dr. Sun Yat Clasic Chinese Garden in Vancouver.

And don’t miss our wonderful selection of beautiful and fascinating artwork and decorative pieces available this auction season. Own a piece of history and fine craftsmanship.

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20 Sep, 2017, 07:30 AM PST
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