Shanghai 1908: A.W. Bahr and China’s first art exhibition

Pearce, N. (2011) Shanghai 1908: A.W. Bahr and China’s first art exhibition. West 86th, 18(1), pp. 2-25. (doi: 10.1086/659382)

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In Old Chinese Porcelain and Works of Art in China, a catalogue published in 1911, its author, A. W. Bahr, claimed that the original exhibition of which the catalogue was a record, which had taken place in Shanghai three years earlier, was the first of its kind. Organized by the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, the 1908 art exhibition was also, Bahr claimed, representative of China’s artistic legacy as it was then known. The organizing committee included Chinese representatives, and a significant number of Chinese collectors and dealers lent items, giving further credence to Bahr’s claims of the exhibition’s originality and compass. In this article these claims are examined in the light of the collecting tradition in China and in the West on the eve of a period that would, over the three succeeding decades, witness an increased understanding of China’s archaeological past. With the use of evidence from published and archival sources, the organization of the exhibition will also be discussed, as will the role of Abel William Bahr (1877–1959), who initiated both the exhibition and the subsequent catalogue.

Item Type:Articles
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:West 86th
Publisher:University of Chicago Press

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