Spring 2019


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*.

Monday 14th January 2019

5:45 for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by Duke’s Auctioneers

Pauline d’Abrigeon of the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris

Albert Jacquemart (1808-1875), author of Histoire de la Céramique, 1873, and his work on Chinese ceramics

Albert Jacquemart (1808-1875) is well-known for having created the terms ‘famille rose’ and ‘famille verte’, but his life and his work remain largely unexplored. In his very first publication on porcelain, the Histoire Artisitique Industrielle et Commerciale de la Porcelaine appeared in 1861 and was co-authored by Edmond le Blant, Chinese ceramic was for the first time considered for its historic and artistic value more than for its technical aspect. Jacquemart and Le Blant established a complex taxonomic system full of division and subdivision based on natural sciences. Indeed, the term ‘famille’ came from Linnaeus’s plant classifications, and much of the vocabulary that he used to describe Chinese ceramics is directly inspired by the Latin names of plants. This closer look at Jacquemart’s work will also allow us to understand the making of knowledge at a time when little Chinese porcelain was visible in public collection. As Jacquemart’s study drew from the private collections he was able to see in Paris, Histoire de la porcelaine also reflects the state of Chinese porcelain collecting in the mid-nineteenth century.

The success of Jacquemart’s study was immediate in the art market world. Only a few months after his publication was available, sales catalogues started to use his terminology and this became the jargon of art dealers. This short presentation thus aims to evaluate the work of Albert Jacquemart in the field of Chinese ceramics history and to analyse his influence in France and in England.

Pauline d’Abrigeon is a PhD candidate at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) and associate researcher at the National Institute of Art History (INHA) in Paris. She graduated from the École du Louvre and the section of Chinese Studies of the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations (INALCO). She also studied for several years at the Department of Art History at National Taiwan University (國立台灣大學藝術史研究所). Her work deals mainly with the history of Chinese ceramics collections, historiography of Chinese ceramics in Europe, knowledge transfers between China and France, and history of the commerce of Chinese ceramics during the 19th century.

Tuesday 12th February: The annual Sonia Lightfoot Memorial Lecture

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

Eleanor Soo-ah Hyun, curator of Korean collections at the BM

Picturing Possessions: Korean Munbangdo Paintings

A genre of paintings called ‘munbangdo’ emerged in 18th-century Joseon Korea and continued to be popular into the mid-20th century. These paintings, also widely referred to as ‘chaekgeori’ or ‘chaekkado,’ depict a variety of objects with books as a central motif.  In their still-life subject matter and pictorial style, the paintings reflect the contemporaneous global trends of collecting, display, trade, and new technologies that were inspiring late Joseon society.  The talk will introduce the different types of munbangdo, the objects that are represented, and the socio-cultural environment which lead to advent and development of the painting genre.

Eleanor Soo-ah Hyun curates the Korean Collection at the British Museum. She is from New York City and is a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation is on 18th-century Korean and Chinese Art. Before arriving at the British Museum in 2015, she worked as a Research Fellow in the Asia Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her latest rotation in the Korean Foundation Gallery is entitled “Stars of the Korean Collection.”

Tuesday 12th March: The Annual Woolf Jade lecture

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

Dr. Xu Lin, Senior Researcher in the Antiques Dept. at the Palace Museum, Beijing.

The Use of Jade in Costume Systems in the Early Ming Dynasty

When Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming dynasty in 1368, he made efforts to restore the ancient regulations of the Han people, while sustaining the foundations laid by [Mongol] Yuan rule. He promoted Confucianism in numerous ways. Confucius valued jade highly. Therefore the early Ming rulers reintroduced the Han tradition of using jade during ritual ceremonies, following the teachings of the Rites of Zhou (Zhou Li) and began to regulate the system for costumes for the Ming dynasty, continuing in later periods to improve these. For example in 1384 the rules for the emperor’s crown and dress already stipulated a jade belt and group jade.

Surviving jade objects that have been handed down, and those that have been excavated, both show that early Ming costume systems took the Han people’s use of jade during the Yuan dynasty and continued some aspects while introducing innovation in others, gradually producing a complete, settled system for jade used in ritual implements as part of court costume. Large quantities of jade were used in making jade pieces connected with court costumes, including belts, ornaments, tablets, caps, belt buckles and objects. This was an important trend in jade in the early Ming and was entirely due to the requirements of the Imperial ritual system; it is an entirely different phenomenon from the flourishing of a different set of jade objects in the mid- and late-Ming which was influenced by the mercantile economy and literati culture of the Jiangnan region, and resulted in jade objects for use and display in everyday life, such as wenwan jades, jewellery and archaistic jades. The court costume jade system that was specified by the Emperor intitiated a tradition of jade use which endured throughout the dynasty; later emperors without exception respected and followed this standard, continuing its use throughout the Ming dynasty.

Dr Xu Lin is a research fellow in the Department of Antiquities, The Palace Museum, Beijing. She is a professor and doctoral advisor at the China Academy of Social Sciences Research Institute. Xu Lin’s research concerns ancient Chinese jade, on which topic she has published over 60 articles and reports. She is the author of Jade Craft in Ancient China, Zhongguo gudai zhiyu gongyi , 2011, and principal editor of numerous publications about research into jade.


For OCS members only, a special viewing of the Woolf Collection of Imperial Chinese Jades will be available on the day of the lecture, between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., in central London. Entry is free but by advance tickets only. Contact Mary Painter by telephone on + 44 (0) 1223 881328 or email to ocs.london@btinternet.com for registration.

Tuesday 9th April

Dr. Craig Barclay, Head of Museums at Durham University

5:45 for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by Dreweatts

Dr. Craig Barclay, Head of Museums at Durham University

In Pursuit of Beauty: Malcolm MacDonald and the Collections of the Oriental Museum

Durham University’s Oriental Museum is home to world class collections of Asian art and archaeology. This talk will focus upon the museum’s Chinese ceramics and, in particular, on the life and collection of one of the museum’s greatest benefactors, the Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald. A career diplomat and incorrigible collector, MacDonald used his love and knowledge of art and ceramics as a tool to foster his personal relationships with key politicians from around the globe. He particularly loved Chinese ceramics and donated important material to museums in Malaysia and Singapore as well as Durham.

Craig Barclay is Head of Museums at Durham University. A graduate in history and archaeology, he has a long-standing interest both in ceramics and in the history of collecting as well as numerous papers on subjects as diverse as Roman coin hoards, studio ceramics and medallic design.

Thursday 2nd May

The Dr. H. Y. Mok charitable foundation lecture on export ceramics

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

Dr. Jan van Campen, Curator of Asian Export Art at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Chinese porcelain: Depictions in early 17th century European paintings

Dr Van Campen’s paper will explore what can be learned about the appreciation of Chinese porcelain at the beginning of the 17th century from the study of European paintings.

An article entitled ‘Oriental Porcelain in Western Paintings 1450-1700’ by Dr A.I. Spriggs (T.O.C.S volume 36, 1967)  has previously discussed this issue. Dr Van Campen will focus on the introduction of porcelain into still life painting, in conjunction with the introduction of porcelain as an affordable luxury item for the middle classes. He will also discuss porcelain in prints and paintings that deliberately depict wealth and affluence, such as Merry Company paintings and ‘Rich Children Poor Children’ prints. His paper will combine information taken from paintings with current ideas about the growing availability and appreciation of porcelain in the early decades of the 17th century.

Jan van Campen studied history of art at Leiden University (Phd 2000). He joined the Rijksmuseum in 2001 and is the curator of Asian export art. His main interest is collection history and European history of appreciation of Chinese ceramics. In 2015 he co-curated the exhibition Asia in Amsterdam, the culture of luxury in the Golden Age, and he was the co-editor of the book Chinese and Japanese porcelain for the Dutch Golden Age (2014).

Tuesday 11th June: AGM, lecture and reception *

* AGM promptly at 5:30 pm followed by lecture and food and drinks reception sponsored by Christie’s

Professor Ohashi Koji, Emeritus advisor for Kyushu Ceramic Museum and chair of the Japan Society of Oriental Ceramic Studies

Recent Ceramic Excavations in Nagasaki: Dutch and Chinese Sites

At the beginning of the Edo period, the Tokugawa shogunate introduced a strict policy against Christianity. As a result, only Chinese and Dutch ships were allowed to trade with Japan in Nagasaki. In 1641, the shogunate forced the Dutch Trading Post to be relocated from Hirado to Dejima. The members of the Dutch Trading Post were under a rigorous restriction of entrance and exit to and from Dejima. On the other hand, until the end of 17th century, the Chinese had a permission to live among Japanese in the city of Nagasaki. In 1683, the Zheng Family Kingdom in Taiwan surrendered to the Qing dynasty. In the following year, the Qing dynasty issued a law called Zhan Hai Ling, which lifted Chinese trade ban. Consequently, Chinese cargos sailed from China to Nagasaki in a great number. This caused problems in the relationship between China and Japan. In 1689, the Tokugawa shogunate put the Chinese merchants under its control by founding Tojin yashiki, Chinese residence. Now that the interaction between the Chinese and Japanese were strictly restricted. The Dutch East India Company’s ‘Dejima’ and Chinese’s ‘Tōjin yashiki’ showed distinct worlds within Japan. The excavated sherds from the two sites reflect the European and Chinese lifestyles unlike other excavation sites in Nagasaki. In the Dejima site, the most popular type was the Arita porcelain traded by the Dutch for the European market, followed by Chinese porcelain as well as Hizen porcelain for the Japanese market. In the Chinese residence site, a significant quantity of Chinese porcelain for the Chinese market was excavated with a relatively small portion of Hizen porcelain for the use of Japanese and Arita porcelain for Europe. This paper compares the two different worlds in Japan by discussing export Arita porcelain in Dejima and Chinese porcelain in the Chinese residence.

Professor Ōhashi Kōji (b.1948) is the emeritus advisor for Kyushu Ceramic Museum and the chairperson for Japan Society of Oriental Ceramic Studies. He studied Economics at Gakushuin University and History at Aoyama Gakuin University Graduate School, both in Tokyo. In 1980, he became a Curator at the Kyushu Ceramic Museum where he researched sherds excavated from kilns and archaeological sites in Japan and overseas. He has made the sherds speak of the technologies, design and history of Hizen ceramics. In 2006-2008, he served for the museum as the Director. He also lectures at Saga University.