Programs and Tours
The Pleasures of the Peony in Chinese Art: Regarding the Floral Temptress in the Song Dynasty
Roslyn Hammers, a UM History of Art alumna and expert on peonies in Chinese culture, will speak on the topic of the role the peony has played in the history of Chinese art and literature. As early as the Tang dynasty (618–907) the allure of the peony had become obsessive, bordering on mania. By the Northern Song (960–1127), according to some floral connoisseurs, the species had already nearly one hundred varieties, and the peonies of the great city of Luoyang were revered as the best under heaven. Every March during times of peace, Louyang experienced a carnival of peony extravaganza, as admirers vied to create, own, and display the most ravishing specimens. Under the weight of such sensational attention, the peony became imbued with a wide range of associations. The temptations of the flower, long associated with feminine seductiveness, compelled poets to extol its sensuous charms. For most aficionados, the voluptuous peony was celebrated in paintings, praised in poetry, and acclaimed in botanical studies. For others, however, the floral beauty was regarded as a subject too seductive for proper scholarly attention or artistic expression. This presentation explores varying facets of the Song-dynasty peony as presented in paintings, poetry, and prose in order to reclaim the complexities it evoked as well as to consider the anxieties the blossoming temptress inspired.
The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum is cosponsoring Dr. Hammers's talk with the UM Center for Chinese Studies, the Confucius Institute, UMMA, and History of Art (LSA). Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, 27 March, 2012
Helmut Stern Auditorium
University of MichiganMuseum of Art
525 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1354