China’s Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangzi Delta

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By Clarissa von Spee, Curator of Chinese Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, with contributions from Yiwen Liu, Curatorial Research Assistant, The Cleveland Museum of Art.

China’s Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangzi Delta is the first publication in the West that focuses on the artistic production and cultural impact of this region of China. Also called Jiangnan, it is located in the coastal area south of the Yangzi River that has throughout large parts of its history been one of China’s most wealthy, populous, and fertile regions. For millennia it has been an area of rich agriculture, extensive trade, and influential artistic production. Art from Jiangnan—home to such great cities as Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing, as well as to hilly picturesque landscapes stretched along rivers and lakes—has largely defined the image of traditional China for the world.

The lavishly 432-page illustrated catalogue includes introductory essays by internationally renowned scholars covering such topics as Jiangnan in poetry, the region’s economy, silk production, southern green stoneware, landscape painting, color print production and urban culture, Buddhism, and garden culture. The book presents six thematic sections and features more than 200 objects from Neolithic times to the 18th century ranging in media from jade, silk, prints, and paintings to porcelain, lacquer, and bamboo carvings. Edited by Clarissa von Spee, the essays and object entries illustrate and discuss how this region gained a leading role in China’s artistic production and how Jiangnan succeeded in setting cultural standards. Taking this new approach, the international exhibition catalogue highlights iconic works of art as well as new, previously unpublished material, from private and public collections in the United States, Europe, China, and Japan.

432 Pages, 336 color + b-w illus.