Visual Experience in Late Ming Suzhou “Honorific” and “Famous Sites” Paintings


Art History

Date of this version


Document Type



Suzhou place paintings


Painters of late Ming Suzhou developed a distinctive topographical vocabulary and site-specific views to distinguish certain visual experiences. This study examines two types of Suzhou place paintings to clarify the particular visual experiences they conveyed to a range of seventeenth-century viewers. “Honorific” paintings present a bird’s-eye survey of significant sites under the jurisdiction of an eminent official. Paintings of “famous sites” captured a synopsis of views experienced in a tour of the sites and lent the fame of their subject matter and inscribers to the owners. Although both categories of site paintings are well known, the visual experiences they present are not, as they are often misidentified or simply labeled “landscapes.” This study seeks to identify and understand the different histories and regimes of visuality these two types of Suzhou place paintings represented for contemporary viewers

Published in

Ars Orientalis

Citation/Other Information

(2009). “Visual Experience in Late-Ming Suzhou ‘Honorific’ and ‘Famous Sites’ Paintings”. Ars Orientalis 36, 137-177.