Chinese art historian:     Material culture   -   Furniture   -   Painting   -   Architecture 



Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture.  Ten Speed Press, 2005.

Furniture and architecture are closely related—each made according to the same principles of construction, design, and proportion—and none more so than the glorious examples in the lavishly illustrated Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture.  Chinese art historian Sarah Handler writes with verve and authority, drawing on her extensive knowledge of the language, literature, social customs, and visual arts of the buildings for which they were designed and used.  Beginning with the plan of the classic courtyard house, following with the placement
and use of the primary furnishings within it, Handler takes the reader into an ordered world that reflects Confucian ideals and social organization balanced with an aesthetic that was, and remains unique in history.  She continues with detailed deconstructions of the exquisite examples of furnishings common to the well-to-do Ming period household—beds, chairs, tables, and cabinets—reproduced here in full color and selected from both private and public collections.  Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture  is a spectacular resource for collectors, craftspeople, scholars, and students.

“Like an engaging companion on a stroll through time, Sarah Handler eloquently guides us through Chinese houses, gardens, literature, and poetry.  Whether pointing out the elegant shape of a column or lifting a gauze curtain to reveal a gracefully furnished bedchamber, she is the perfect narrator for this aesthetic journey.  A sumptuous tome to linger over.

—Nancy Berliner

“Based on an intimate knowledge of the subject and utilizing interdisciplinary approaches and fresh perspectives, Sarah Handler breathes new life into structural and spatial forms in her beautifully crafted book that will be applauded by specialists as well as enjoyed by general readers.”

—Ronald G. Knapp

“Sarah Handler deserves accolades from furniture scholars and collectors, architectural historian, and those who simply love Chinese art and want to better understand the milieu in which, and for which, it was created, used, and appreciated.”

—Lark E. Mason, Jr.

“This is an extraordinarily unusual book.  Scholarly yet written with obvious love for the subject, beautiful contemporary photography combined with historic drawings, and wonderful use of poetry and stories to delight the reader.”

—Builders Booksource

“Sarah Handler has found an original and effective way to present the beauty and meaning of Chinese wooden furniture by relating it to the forms and functions of Chinese architecture  …. This book in fact would make an excellent text for an introductory course on Chinese traditional culture, since not only does it include a great deal of information on both architecture and furniture, but it also relates to how life was lived in early-modern China….Handler has a remarkable talent for describing the form and style of pieces of furniture in such a way as to make the reader look at them with new attention and awareness….”

—Alison Hardie


Photo by Seth Affoumado


©2018 Sarah Handler

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