Gardens of Pleasure, Eroticism and Art in China

ISBN: 2-84876-007-9
PRESTEL Munich, London, New York, 2003
ISBN: 3-7913-2862-X
PS ITEMS, Harderwijk, 2004
ISBN: 90-77204-12-1

French, English, and Dutch editions

The erotic life of historical China – so different from Western sensibilities – can best be understood through the exceptional works of art which it inspired. From the 7th century onwards, a period which saw the emergence of China’s rich trading cities as well one of the most sophisticated societies in the world, Chinese ‘courtesan culture’ flourished, described and illuminated by dramatists, poets – and artists.

Drawing on the largest collection of Chinese erotic art in the world, this unique book initiates the reader into China’s intimate ‘gardens of pleasure’. Over one hundred of the most beautiful masterpieces from this golden age – many never before published – reveal the voluptuous secrets of a lost world. An essay by Jacques Pimpaneau traces the development of Chinese eroticism in its cultural context, emphasizing the influence of religions and historical events on sexual practises. Commentaries by Ferdinand Bertholet explain the cultural symbolism of the paintings.

Beautifully ornamented with poems contemporary with the paintings, this is a sumptuous collector’s volume and a tribute to the unknown masters of Chinese erotic art.