Title:The Studio of Gratifying DiscourseArtist:Unknown Date:1797Creation Place:Asia, China, Jiangsu Province, Lake TaiCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:98.61.2
This library and its attached rock garden are from a large Ch'ing dynasty residence located in the West Tung-t'ing Hills district of Lake T'ai in the village of Tang-li. A commemorative plaque in the garden wall dates the building to 1797 while an inscription on one of the ceiling beams names the library "The Studio of Gratifying Discourse". After the reception hall, the library or study can be seen as the most important room in an educated upper-class household. The library and its two small, attached rock gardens featuring contorted stones from the Lake T'ai region offered a quiet spiritual sanctuary within an urban setting. It was here that scholars could read, write, paint, examine antiques, and converse informally with friends. The educated merchant class and scholars of the Chiang-nan region from which this room comes, created an economic and cultural climate during Ming and Ch'ing in which the arts flourished. Private libraries and gardens were essential to the enjoyment and production of literati art.