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Past Exhibitions

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Pure Amusements

Birdcage, hexagon, 1850–1920, Chinese, bamboo, metal, 22 x 9 x 9 in., Gift of Henry and Mary Ann James, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2007.9.

Pure Amusements: Wealth, Leisure, and Culture in Late Imperial China

Dec 24 2016 – May 15 2022

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

A new installation, Pure Amusements: Wealth, Leisure, and Culture in Late Imperial China features Chinese works ranging from prints to sculpture and furnishings to ceramics drawn from SAM's collection and focused on objects created for, and enjoyed during, the intentional practice of leisure.

From the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644) onward, leisure had many rules. Gentlemanly pastimes, like drinking tea, viewing paintings, and planting bamboo in the garden, were pursuits of an elegant lifestyle. Such “pure amusements” (qingwan) were not frivolous—they helped establish one’s standing in society. Aspiring men thus collected objects like chessboards, books, paintings, calligraphy, ancient bronze vessels, and ink rubbings of antiquities. With greater social mobility, and broader literacy in the late-16th to early-17th century, knowledge and culture were accessible not only to scholars and aristocrats but also to the newly affluent.

This installation is included in general admission.
Pure Amuseuments

Pitong, chinese, early 18th century, Bamboo and teak, 4 3/4 x 2 1/2 in. (12.1 x 6.4 cm.,) Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection, 56.109.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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