"Twice as valuable as that of Eumorphopulos and twice as famous..." (Vita Sackville-West, All Passion Spent, 1931) - The real and imaginary world of the Chinese art collector

Pearce, N. (2021) "Twice as valuable as that of Eumorphopulos and twice as famous..." (Vita Sackville-West, All Passion Spent, 1931) - The real and imaginary world of the Chinese art collector. Journal for Art Market Studies, 5(1), (doi: 10.23690/jams.v5i1.107)

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Abstract

The period between about 1900 and 1937 witnessed the opening up of an international market in Chinese artefacts at a time when China was vulnerable to encroachment and, after 1911 with the fall of the last imperial dynasty, was in political, social and economic turmoil. During the post-WW1 decades the visibility of the country and its cultural history also stimulated an academic and popular interest in Chinese material culture of all types and periods, but particularly burial objects being unearthed through railway construction (bronzes, jades and ceramics), which initiated both legal and illegal excavations and the market circulation of collections formerly owned by the Chinese élite. These opportunities to 'collect' ended only with the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, when access to China was severely curtailed. In this article, I will focus on the way in which the visibility of these collectors impacted upon popular culture of the inter-war period, particularly the novel. Referencing actual collectors against their fictional counterparts offers an intriguing insight into character, motivation and the market for Chinese works of art at the time. Indeed the eccentricity and flamboyance of a number of real collectors made them ideal material for the writers of fiction.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pearce, Professor Nick
Authors: Pearce, N.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Journal Name:Journal for Art Market Studies
Publisher:Forum Kunst und Markt
ISSN:2511-7602
ISSN (Online):2511-7602
Published Online:10 June 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Nick Pearce
First Published:First published in Journal for Art Market Studies 5(1) 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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