The Arts of China to A.D. 900


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William Watson

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This book is the first in a major three-volume series that will survey China's immense wealth of art, architecture, and artifacts from prehistoric times to the twentieth century. The Arts of China to A.D. 900 investigates the beginnings of the traditions on which much of the art rests, moving from Neolithic and Bronze Age China to the era of the Tang Dynasty around A.D. 900.

William Watson discusses in lively detail a wide range of art forms and techniques: porcelain and pottery, lacquer, religious and secular painting and sculpture, mural painting, monumental sculpture and architecture. He explains the materials and techniques of bronze casting, jade carving, pottery manufacture, and other arts, and he describes the most important sites, the artifacts that were produced at each one, and the historical interactions between different areas. He discusses the iconography, the technique and the function of every art form. Written by one of the most distinguished scholars in the field of Chinese art and archaeology, this lavishly illustrated book will be a valuable resource for both experts and beginners in the field.

William Watson is emeritus professor of Chinese art and archaeology at the University of London. He was formerly director of The Percival David Foundation, London, and has written a number of other books on Chinese art and architecture.

"This [is a] sumptuous study of a period which has caught the imagination of thousands of collectors in the last ten years, speaks eloquently and with deep and reassuring scholarship of a remarkable period in world art."—Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post

"Presented in an elegant slipcase is this college-level reference, the first in a major three-volume series to explore China's art and architectural development. A range of art forms and techniques is explored in this excellent coverage, outstanding in its detail, color photo illustrations, and scope."—Bookwatch

"William Watson's sumptuous new book presents a comprehensive account of the arts of China to the end of the Tang dynasty. The book combines fine scholarship with reproductions of the latest archeological finds, images of objects in Western museums, and good maps and diagrams. . . . This is a richly illustrated and thoughtful history that will reward the reader new to Chinese art as well as the more seasoned devotee."—Candace J. Lewis, New Asia Review

"A stimulating and challenging book, by an author whose overall grasp suggests that the next volume is well worth waiting for."—Rose Kerr, Burlington Magazine

"Given that the reader is sufficiently well equipped and is prepared to concentrate, he or she will find a logical progression of discussion, a simple but effective layout and a well chosen and well presented abundance of illustrations in this remarkable book."—Oliver Impey, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

"The technical manufacture of the various 'minor arts' for which China is known—bronze vessels, lacquerware, and all varieties of ceramics—is explained in detail, as are numerous aspects of Chinese painting. Furthermore, the illustrations for his explanations, which appear on almost every page, are excellent, sometimes spectacular. This book is user-friendly and is presented as the kind of book that many, including general readers, would want in their libraries. Furthermore, virtually every museum in the Western world with a Chinese art collection is represented among the illustrations. . . . The reader will find nearly four hundred of the objects and monuments that narrate the history of Chinese art, and one will also learn more about Chinese ceramics and metalwork than is available in most comparable surveys. Moreover, one will learn all of this through beautifully written prose."—Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, China Review International

"This is a rich book, written in a scholarly fashion. Keen readers should not neglect the footnotes which often contain useful information and interesting analysis. The glossary and bibliography are set in both western and Chinese scripts, which makes life much easier for students."—Wang Tao, The Art Newspaper

Winner of the Choice 1996 Outstanding Academic Book Award
ISBN: 9780300082845
Publication Date: April 10, 2000
288 pages, 6.125 x 9.25
300 b/w + 96 color illus.
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