Lectures will be held at the Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE
at 6.00 p.m., or with welcome drinks in advance, at 5.45 p.m. for 6.15 p.m., unless otherwise noted*.


Tuesday 13th February

5:45 pm for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by Woolley & Wallis

The annual Sonia Lightfoot Memorial painting lecture

Dr. Clarissa von Spee, Cleveland Museum of Art

Multiples in Chinese Painting – Reassessing ‘dismissed’ paintings in historic museum collections

When dealing with Chinese painting, encountering multiples or so-called ‘twins’ (shuangbao) is a common phenomenon, whether working in a museum with a historic collection, in an academic environment, or an auction house. Multiples or ‘twins’ are here defined as similar or identical versions of paintings that correspond in theme, composition, and the choice of motifs. The discovery of a ‘twin’ version often arouses immediate questions of authenticity. Expanding the view to Europe and Japan, the lecture draws on new approaches in the field of European art history and includes the study of Japanese Kano-school artists; it explores the complexity of the phenomenon of ‘twin versions’ and re-attributes paintings, earlier dismissed as forgeries.

Clarissa von Spee is Chair of Asian Art and Curator of Chinese Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She was Curator of the Chinese and Central Asian collections at the British Museum from 2008 to 2016. Dr. von Spee received her PhD from Heidelberg University in Germany. Her publications include Wu Hufan. A Twentieth Century Art Connoisseur in Shanghai; The Perfect Brush-Chinese Paintings, 1300-1900; Modern Chinese Ink Paintings -A Century of New Directions; The Printed Image in China from the 8th to the 21st Centuries, and Modern Chinese Painting & Europe. New Perceptions, Artistic Encounters, and the Formation of Collections, co-edited with Michaela Pejčochová (Berlin 2017).

Tuesday 13th March

The Annual Woolf Jade lecture

5:45 pm for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by the Woolf Charitable Trust

Dr Ling Qin, Associate Professor, School of Archaeology & Museology, Peking University

Power in Things: the Neolithic jades and early complex societies in China

This talk will focus on the significance of Neolithic jades in the development of early Chinese civilization.  Focusing on the topics of materiality and entanglement, the talk will briefly go through all major jade traditions of the Hongshan, Lingjiatan, Liangzhu, post-Shijiahe and Qijia cultures with the updated archaeological discoveries. It will explain these cultural traditions as contexts within which jade objects took on a particularly important role in the creation and maintenance of power relationships within these cultural contexts and as metaphors that help us understand the fixed ritual system of later Bronze Age China.

Dr. Qin, Ling is Associate Professor of Neolithic Archaeology and Archaeobotany at the School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, Beijing. She completed her PhD on Neolithic social complex in the lower Yangtze River area. She has worked extensively on Neolithic excavations and material cultures in China, jointly directing field-work in Zhejiang, Shandong, Shaanxi and Henan. Her current research projects and interests include the scientific research on Neolithic jades in Eastern China, early agriculture developments in lower Yangzte, and in Yunnan (southwest China), as well as the theory and practice of early civilizations study in a comparative perspective around East Asia.

Tuesday 10th April

5:45 pm for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by Woolley & Wallis

Dominic Jellinek

Marcus Ezekiel: A Collector Rediscovered

Marcus Ezekiel’s biography and his relationship with Sir Percival David are fairly well known.  Much of his collection was sold, first at Christie’s in March 1930, and then at Sotheby’s in May 1946.  But until last year the origin of his collection has been something of a mystery.  This lecture will examine some of the documents that have been rediscovered, will consider possible influences on Ezekiel’s collecting, and make comparisons with some contemporary collectors.

Dominic Jellinek’s interest in Chinese art began when he joined Bluett and Sons in late 1978, where he stayed until the firm ceased trading at the end of 1992.  Having been able to acquire the archives of that firm, after a few more years of dealing he left the business to concentrate on research. Several years were spent working with his good friend Roy Davids on the book “Provenance”, a biographical dictionary of English and American collectors of Chinese ceramics, published in 2011.

Tuesday 15th May

The Mok Family Lecture sponsored by the Dr. Mok Hing Yiu Charitable Foundation with drinks sponsored by Woolley & Wallis

Dr. Tang Hui

Chinese porcelain shops and export porcelain trade

The rise of shops in eighteenth century Europe has been one of the most dynamic fields of historical research. Historians have increasingly emphasized the sophistication of retail practices in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Shops are highlighted as an important part of the marketing of goods; advertising is recognized as widespread and often complex in its communication of ideas. In eighteenth-century Canton, porcelain shops were the main source of porcelain for the European East India Companies. Yet, we know little about the details of how porcelain was actually sold to foreign traders. Little has been written by scholars about their methods of selling or the role those porcelain dealers played in the trade. This lecture draws attention to Chinese paintings on porcelain shops, combining textual records and visual representations to illustrate the development of porcelain shops in eighteenth-century Canton as well as the roles of porcelain dealers in the trade.

Dr. Tang Hui received her Ph.D from the University of Warwick in 2017. Her thesis discusses Chinese enameled porcelain, its production, technological innovation as well as its consumption in domestic and export markets during the eighteenth century. She volunteered at the British Museum from 2015 to 2017. She now works at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, as an Exhibition Curator, working on a special exhibition about the Song Maritime Silk Road.


OCS AGM sponsored by Sotheby’s

Wednesday 6th June starting promptly at 5:30 pm followed by lecture and food reception

Dr. Sarah Cheang, Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Art

Chinoiserie Fashions and Chinese Interiors: Fashion, Taste and Identity in Twentieth Century Britain

In the history of chinoiserie, the relationship between ‘Chinese’ interior design, fashion and western identity became particularly intense in the 1920s. This lecture takes as its starting point the Chinese sitting room of Queen Mary (1867-1953), who was patroness of the OCS. This Chinese sitting room was not a ‘real’ room, but a fashionable lady’s personal space created in fantasy and in miniature. Part of a dolls’ house conceived as an elaborate showcase of British design and craftsmanship, the sitting room, and other spaces coded ‘personal’ within the dolls’ house, were furnished in Chinese styles complete with miniature lacquerware, tiny Chinese vases and minute carved jades. The year of the dolls’ house’s public exhibition, 1924, sets it exactly at the apex of chinoiserie fashions in Euro-American cultures. At this time, Chinese embroideries were being made into cushions, coasters or fixed to the walls, manufacturers were producing willow-pattern wallpapers and dragon furnishing fabrics, and women’s fashions included Chinese shapes, motifs, and even the wearing Chinese robes as evening coats. This lecture explores how Chinese collecting, connoisseurship and fashion came together in British interiors in the first three decades of the twentieth century to produce particular relationships between Britishness and Chineseness, and between history and modernity.

Sarah Cheang (1967) is Senior Tutor in the History of Design at the Royal College of Art, London (2011 onwards). She had previously taught in the department of Cultural and Historical Studies, London College of Fashion (2004-2011), where she developed her fashion specialism. She gained her Masters Degree (1999) and Doctorate (2003) from the University of Sussex, working in a History of Art department that was remarkable for the global breadth and post-colonial emphasis of its programmes.

Sarah’s research centres on transnational fashion, material culture and the body from the nineteenth century to the present day, on which she has published and lectured widely. Her work is characterized by a concern with the ways people experience and express ethnicity through fashion and body adornment. She co-edited the collection Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion (2008), writing on hair and race, as well as reflecting more generally on the meanings of hair within a wide range of cultures. Fascinated by states of in-between and the creative potential of metamorphosis and misunderstanding, she recently led the research project Fashion and Translation: Britain, Japan, China, Korea (2014-15), exploring East Asian identities through the ways that fashion travels between cultures. Sarah has a special interest in the role of Chinese material culture within histories of Western fashion, and her next book, Sinophilia, will explore these themes in relation to dress, the body, interior design, shopping, and even Pekingese dogs.

Tuesday 9th October

Sponsored by Christie’s

Dr Shelly Xue, Associate Professor, Shanghai Institute of Visual Art & researcher, Shanghai Museum of Glass

The Investigation of Qing dynasty Chinese glass in European Countries

Based on the national research project “the Investigation of the Qing Dynasty Chinese Glass in European Countries,” Dr. Shelly Xue will summarize her discoveries through the examination of a large number of Qing dynasty Chinese glass objects and related archives at the main collections in Europe.

By comparing the Qing glass collections in Europe and in the Palace Museums (Beijing & Taiwan), the research reveals the development of 19th century Chinese glassmaking after the decline of the imperial production. Furthermore, according to the clues imbedded in real objects, the interactions between Qing glass and European glassmaking were identified.

Dr. Xue was the first Chinese scholar to receive a doctoral degree in glass art in the UK. She set up the glass studio at Shanghai Institute of Visual Art of Fudan University in 2007. As a glass artist, her works have been collected by European and Chinese art institutions and individual collectors, such as the V&A.

A researcher on the history of glass art, she has published four books – Qing dynasty Chinese Glass (Shanghai University Press); Now/Then – Influences of Qing Dynasty glass on Contemporary Glass Art, Chinese versions of A History of Glass Forming (《世界玻璃工艺史》) and Techniques of Kiln-formed Glass (《玻璃艺术的窑制技法》). Recently, she received a National Research Fund grant on “the investigation of the Qing Dynasty Chinese glass in European Countries.”

(Asian Art in London 2018 will take place from 1st – 10th November)

Monday 5th November

*The Bonhams/OCS Asia Week lecture at Bonhams*

101 New Bond Street, London W1S 1SR

Drinks: 5:30 pm for 6:00 p.m. lecture. No booking required.

Chi Johsin, former Head of the Antiquities Dept 器物处处长at the Palace Museum in Taipei, will talk on the Qing court archive 陈设档. She will look at which objects were placed in which Hall inside the Forbidden City. Her focus will be on the methods of display Duobaoge 多寶格, Ming Wilson of the V&A will be the translator on the day.

Professor Chi is the visiting scholar of the Department of Fine Arts and Art Museum, Institute of Chinese Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. A seasoned specialist in Chinese decorative art, Prof. Chi worked as the Chief Curator of the Department of Antiquities, the Department of Registration and Conservation and the Department of Safety of the National Palace Museum, Taiwan (NPM).

She has been constantly engaged in the acquisition, management and research of the collections of the NPM. She has curated numerous important exhibitions and published widely in the field. She used to be the personal secretary of Zhang Daqian, the famous Chinese painter and, after retiring from the NPM, Prof. Chi taught in the Department of History of the Chinese Culture University, during which time she was also appointed as the Director of Hwa Kang Museum. Prof. Chi was educated in the National Taiwan University, majoring in Chinese art history.




Tuesday 13th November

The annual Sir Michael Butler Memorial lecture

5:45 for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by Katharine and Charles Butler

Cora Würmell, curator of Japanese and Chinese Porcelain collections at the Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden

East Asian Porcelain in Dresden: the Royal Collections from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century

Cora Würmell is Curator for the Japanese and Chinese Porcelain collections of the Porzellansammlung, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden and has published and lectured on the collection at international venues.

Before her studies at Heidelberg University – where she wrote her MA thesis on contemporary Japanese ceramics – she travelled extensively and first came in touch with ceramics in Ghana, West Africa. Here she worked alongside a social worker to support the traditional handicrafts and education of women.

She has since been a practicing ceramicist and participated at various ceramic workshops in Germany, France and Spain. While on a scholarship programme from 2002-2003 at Kyodai University in Kyoto she became interested in the history of Japanese ceramics. She subsequently participated in a 7 months’ internship at the Clark Center for Japanese Art Culture, Hanford, California, where she studied a rich collection of Japanese contemporary ceramics.

Her current projects include work on a detailed catalogue of the East Asian porcelain holdings at the Porzellansammlung Dresden as part of a larger international project, together with Professor Christiaan Jörg, and in collaboration with other specialists. She oversees the project but is also in charge of coordinating visits and workshops related to the project.

Tuesday 11th December

5:45 for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by Woolley & Wallis

Dr Mary Redfern, Curator of the East Asian Collections, Chester Beatty Library

On Doctor’s Orders: Chester Beatty’s 1917 Journey to China and Japan and the Development of his East Asian Collection 

The collection amassed by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968) embraces the arts of Europe, Asia and Africa. Placed in trust for the Irish nation half a century ago, this collection is quite rightly called ‘Ireland’s greatest gift’ and continues to form the core of the permanent collection of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Born and raised in New York, Beatty made his fortune in mining, but as a result also suffered health complications. A 1914 visit to Egypt was made for the benefit of his lungs, and his 1917 trip to China and Japan was also undertaken at his doctor’s instruction. Both journeys impacted on his collecting immeasurably. Focusing on Beatty’s 1917 visit to East Asia, surviving archival records permit an unusually detailed view of the development of Beatty’s collections during this time, the dealers he visited and the advice he solicited. These records also shed light on the collecting interests of Beatty’s wife, Edith, who sought out the Chinese textiles and Japanese lacquer works that today stretch the definition of this exquisite ‘library’ collection.

Mary Redfern joined the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland, as Curator of the East Asian Collections in October 2015. Since that time she has curated the exhibitions Art of Friendship: Japanese Surimono Prints and Preserved in Partnership: Treasures of Japanese Art. She completed her PhD on Japanese imperial ceramics and dining at the University of East Anglia, with publications including Tennō no dainingu hōru (The Emperor’s Dining Hall) written with Yamazaki Taisuke and Imaizumi Yoshiko and ‘Minton for the Meiji Emperor’ in Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits, vol. X.