Garden Views: Flora and Fauna in Chinese Art

  • Exhib_slideshow_exhibition_gardenviews_8092-1

    Ma Quan (1640-after 1739). 'Flowers and Insects,' China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), dated 1723. Handscroll; ink and color on paper. Purchase, 1996 (8092.1).

May 31, 2012 - September 23, 2012
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

The Joanna Lau Sullivan Chinese Courtyard—an interpretation of what a small courtyard within a traditional Chinese garden might look like—has been a peaceful oasis for museum guests since the institution's original construction in 1926. Lovingly maintained by the Garden Club of Hawaiʻi, this court is cultivated to contain plants and objects significant to Chinese art and culture. The courtyard also represents the historic ties Hawai‘i has with China in its architectural features, from the granite pavers that served as ballast in the ships used in the sandalwood trade, to the Qing-dynasty (1644-1911) green tile along the balustrade.

The Sullivan courtyard is the inspiration for Garden Views, in the Maurice J. Sullivan Family Gallery of Chinese Art, featuring popular Chinese paintings and decorative art objects that have flower and garden motifs. In Flowers and Insects, the artist Ma Quan (1640- ca.1739) depicts his subject matter in a meticulous manner that finds its precedent in the Imperial-Academy painting style of the Northern-Song dynasty (960-1127), which is represented by one work in the exhibition. Visitors are invited to identify the various aspects of the courtyard that are highlighted in the gallery, where they will find explanations of the cultural significance of selected garden elements.