Previous lectures

Tuesday 8th October
The annual Sir Michael Butler Memorial lecture sponsored by Katharine and Charles Butler
5:45 pm for 6:15 pm with welcome drinks sponsored by Woolley & Wallis
Dr. Stacey Pierson, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor), History of Art and Archaeology Department, SOAS
Fragments of China: Destruction, Location and the Collecting of Chinese Architectural Remains in 19
th– century Britain

The collecting of Chinese art and objects in Britain developed significantly in the second half of the 19th century. This development was associated with greater access to collectible material and to China itself, primarily as a result of military activity. Events, such as the sacking of the Summer Palace in 1860, provided physical access to China and its things and led to new areas of collecting and approaches to collecting. It also led to new ways of thinking about both China and collected objects. Of particular interest is the collecting of architectural remains from China which became at once souvenirs, trophies and ‘art’. They were connected physically and intellectually to a nation, specific buildings and specific events. The kind of architectural fragments that were removed and collected included tiles, bricks, roof ornaments and fragments of statuary that decorated buildings. As such, these Chinese ‘objects’ were more familiar to the British collector than items more typically identified as art, such as porcelain or cloisonné vases, pictures, lacquerware or jades. This familiarity is the result of a long history of collecting architectural remains in Britain which became almost a craze during the 18th century and the pursuit of ‘the Grand Tour’. What is different about the collecting of Chinese architectural fragments is that it was associated with immediate events, rather than the temporal distance that was associated with European fragments. Unlike Chinese ones, European fragments were ‘ruins’, the perceived result of crumbling that comes with age and is linked to the ancient past. There is therefore a romance associated with such collecting, but the psychology of collecting Chinese fragments was very different as it was associated with contemporary violence. In this talk, the many aspects of collecting architectural remains from China in 19th-century Britain will be explored with a view to illuminating collecting practices associated with specific types of material but also the relationship between collecting and destruction that characterized a material relationship with China after 1860.

Dr Stacey Pierson was Curator of the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art at SOAS (PDF) from 1997-2007. This museum housed the world-renowned David collection of Chinese ceramics, which is now on display in the British Museum. As Curator of the PDF, and subsequently as a member of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at SOAS, she has concentrated her research and teaching on aspects of Chinese ceramics in both the domestic and global spheres and on the history of collecting. She has published widely in these subject areas and her recent books include:

  1. Collectors, Collections and Museums: the Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain: 1560-1960, Peter Lang, 2007.
  2. Chinese Ceramics: a Design History,V&A Publications, 2009.
  3. From Object to Concept: Global Consumption and the Transformation of Ming Porcelain, HKU Press, 2013
  4. Private Collecting, Exhibitions and the Shaping of Art History in London: the Burlington Fine Arts Club, Routledge, 2017.

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 17
th 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.