Titled Along the River During the Qingming Festival, this famous Song Dynasty painting offers a snapshot of the daily life of the Northern Song capital, Bianjing. People from all walks of life, from beggars to merchants, are depicted in the vivid scene, capturing the festival’s bustling spirit.
A jade-hued patchwork motif pays tribute to the first emperor of Liu Song Dynasty, whose mother’s rag patchwork quilt was passed down to every infant in the family, as a symbol of his impoverished childhood and newfound fortune.
Birth of Spring
Refined and uplifting, Botticelli’s Primavera (Allegory of Spring) is one of the Renaissance’s best-loved classics. The dynamic scene paints the new beginnings and rebirth of spring, blending Greek mythology and Christian concepts in a nod to the Neoplatonic concept of ideal beauty and absolute love.
A romantic, floaty gown takes its cue from the dress worn by Flora, the goddess of spring, and the youthful innocence she represents; a sheer overlay over skin-tone lining hints at the era’s popular nude-figure paintings.
British-Canadian artist Marianne Broome has won multiple awards for her vivid flower and landscape watercolours, many inspired by her years of living in Malaysia. In Irises, she chooses a blossom rich in symbolism. The name for irises in Chinese translates as “the dancing spirit of early summer.” Ancient Greeks associated it with eloquence, while in the Victorian era, the purple flower represented wisdom and admiration.
In China, the iris is sometimes associated with a purple butterfly, due to its fluttering, wind-blown petals evoking butterfly wings. A swinging lilac sheath adorned with petal-like detail transforms the flower’s spirit into wearable art.
Elegant, Blooming Lotus
“She grows in mud, yet is never contaminated by it. She floats on wavy water, yet never dances with it.” Song Dynasty philosopher Zhou Dunyi’s Ode to the Lotus Flower thus praises the lotus’s noble and transcendental character. In Buddhism, the lotus represents a pure land and is praised as a holy flower. In oriental culture, the lotus appears everywhere — from stone carvings to paintings to textiles.
Filled with vigor and purity, the white-and-pink flower motif is reminiscent of the holy lotus and of the graceful, dancing fairies of oriental legend. With glittering gold and gemstone accessories, the whole ensemble is shrouded in pure and spiritual brilliance.