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Musée national des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet
Musée national des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet

Musée national des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet

Conference "Ceramic Alchemy, Chinese Monochromes Porcelains in China (8th -18th c)"

Time & Location

12 Jun 2024, 09:30 – 17:30

Auditorium Jean-François Jarrige, 6 Pl. d'Iéna, 75116 Paris, France

About the event

Height scholars reveal the history and secrets of the material of Chinese monochromes porcelains.

Free admission upon reservation (subject to availability)

Simultaneous translation arranged.

9 am - Opening of the auditorium

9.30 am - Opening speech by Yannick Lintz, Guimet museum Director.

Chair and moderator for the morning session: Monique Crick

9.45 - 10.15 am

Regina Krahl: Secret Colour: Chinese Celadons (in English)

The evolution of monochrome ceramics in China spans over three-thousand years and there is no better way to trace it than through the history of Chinese celadon wares. Celadon glazes, in the West often described as sea-green, in China as jade-green, offer such a wide range of tones, textures and surface patterns, that they never went out of fashion, since potters continued to create new styles. Thus, the appreciation of these monochrome glazes went through three rather different phases.

Regina Krahl is an independent researcher of Chinese art, specializing in Chinese ceramics. She has worked for many of the major museums internationally, including as Acting Curator of Chinese Ceramics at the British Museum, London. She has published many books and articles on the subject, including the three-volume catalogue raisonné of Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, and the four-volume Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection. She acts as Research Consultant for Sotheby’s worldwide.

10.15 - 11 am

Lu Minghua: The Development of Red Glazes and its Summit (in Chinese)

As an introduction, this lecture will first highlight the development of red glazes from the Tang/Song to the Ming periods. The emphasis will be on the Jingdezhen red glazes productions in the Qing dynasty, in particular Sang-de-boeuf and sacrificial red glazes of the Kangxi reign (1662-1722). Attention will also be given to the flambe, ruby red and aubergine glazes of the Yongzheng (1723-1735) and Qianlong (1736-1795) reigns. It is hope that the lecture will deepen the understanding of the development and related issues of Qing red glazes.

Prof. Lu Minghua has been with the Shanghai Museum for half a century, responsible for the study and connoisseurship of Chinese ceramics. As a Senior Research Fellow he had been Director of the Department for the Research of Ceramics of the Shanghai Museum. He was also elected Deputy Chairman of the Society for Chinese Ancient Ceramics. He is a Deputy Chair of Trustees of the Shanghai Society for Research on Ceramic Technology, Adjunct Professor Fudan University, Member of Shanghai Research Institute of Culture and History. He publishes more than 110 papers.

11 - 11.30 am

Peter Lam: Imperial Colour: Three Case Studies of Chinese Yellow Glazes (in English).

The colour yellow had been regarded as that reserved for the emperor and his household in the Ming and Qing dynasties. This paper will trace the development of the yellow glaze, using iron or antimony as the colourants, through its inception in China to the 19th century. Three cases studies using archaeological finds and historical texts of gazetteers and imperial archives will identify the new provenance of a group of yellow tea-cups of the Tang, the types and dimensions of yellow vessels used in the Ming court, and the more exact date of the introduction of lemon-yellow glaze recipe to Jingdezhen.

Art historian and museum professional Peter Y. K. Lam is an Honorary Fellow/Professor of the Institute of Chinese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He had been with the Art Museum of the University for four decades and in the last fourteen years its Director/Professor. He is an expert in Chinese ceramics, calligraphy and later decorative arts, having curated and organized many exhibitions and published numerous works on these subjects.

11.30 - 12 am

Claire Déléry: Reception and Perception of Chinese Monochrome Ceramics in Europe (in French).

Monochrome ceramics have a special place in Chinese history and culture. Although highly prized in Europe for their aesthetic qualities, their cultural values were only belatedly understood.

Ph. D. in medieval studies, Claire Déléry is curator in charge of Chinese porcelain at the Musée Guimet in Paris.

12 - 12.30 am - Questions and answers.

12.30 am - Lunch break.

2.00 pm - Afternoon session moderator: Claire Déléry.

2 - 2.30 pm

Monique Crick: Underwater archaeology and Monochrome Ceramics Discovered in Shipwrecks (in French).

Shipwreck cargoes have provided a global view of ceramics of various qualities exported for distinct markets and have revealed categories that have disappeared through use and time. This talk, based on archaeological material dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries, will examine the role of monochromes in trade at different periods.

Monique Crick was formerly in charge of missions at the Musée Guimet and Director of the Fondation Baur, Musée des Arts d'Extrême-Orient in Geneva (2003-2017), and has also worked on underwater excavations in the Philippines. Her research focuses on the maritime history of ceramics between China and South-East Asia, Europe and India (9th-17th centuries).

2.30 - 3 pm

Teresa Canepa: Chinese Monochrome Porcelains of the 17th Century, The Sir Michael Butler Collection (In English).

The British diplomat Sir Michael Butler (1929–2013) assembled the most important collection of 17th-century Chinese porcelain in the world. For more than 40 years he acquired pieces which reflected the technical and artistic achievements of monochrome porcelain and its restrained beauty and timeless elegance. This paper will discuss a selection of pieces and will examine new information gathered from textual sources and archaeological material that has significantly contributed to a better understanding of the production of monochrome porcelains in 17th-century China.

Dr. Teresa Canepa is an independent researcher and lecturer in Chinese and Japanese art of the 16th and 17th centuries. She completed a PhD in Art History at Leiden University and is a member of the Council of the Oriental Ceramic Society in London and co-editor of its Newsletter since 2017. She is the author of many books, and co-author with Katharine Butler of Leaping the Dragon Gate. The Sir Michael Butler Collection of 17th-Century Chinese Porcelain (2021). She has lectured and published widely on these subjects.

3 - 3.30 pm - Questions and answers

3.30 - 4 pm - Regina Krahl: digest (in english)

4 - 4.30 pm - break

4.20 - 5.15 pm 

Dialogue with Richard Kan and other participants moderated by Henry Howard Sneyd (in English)

Richard and Henry will explore what it is to be a collector, what drives Richard’s initial interest in a field and what lead Richard, as a collector to pursue the finest and rarest pieces of monochrome porcelain to all corners of the earth. Richard will share stories of ‘the chase’ and perhaps admit to ‘ones that got away’ and the two will discuss favourite pieces and stories of collectors, dealers and auctioneers across time.

Henry Howard-Sneyd is Chairman of Asian Art, Europe and Americas based between London and New York. He is Sotheby’s lead Auctioneer globally in Asian Art. He was educated in the United Kingdom at Eton College and Pembroke College, Cambridge University where he earned a joint Master of Arts degree in Biochemistry and History of Art.

Mr Howard-Sneyd joined Sotheby’s London in 1987 and went on to become a member of the Chinese department of which he was named Head in 1997. In 2000 he assumed the role as Managing Director of Sotheby’s Asia, based in Hong Kong, where he oversaw the early stages of the dramatic growth of the business in that market. In 2007 he moved to New York taking on the role of Vice Chairman of Asian Art and managing the Asia Division in New York. During his time in New York he managed the sale of the remaining collection of JT Tai and Co as well as founding a new department focused on Classical Chinese paintings and acting for two years as Chairman of Asiaweek New York.

In 2015 he returned to the UK to take up his current role while continuing to travel and lead auctions internationally. He is currently Chairman of Asian Art in London and a Council member of the Oriental Ceramic Society.

Richard W.C. Kan is a respected collector of Chinese monochrome ceramics from the fifth century to the eighteenth century with an emphasis on the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1487) and the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1795).  His collection covers most, if not all, of the fifty-seven hues cited by Tang Ying, Superintendent of the Customs Office in Jiujiang cum official in charge of the Imperial Porcelain Factory in Jingdezhen, in the reigns of the emperors Yongzheng and Qianlong.  In the past twenty years, an exhibition of some of his monochrome collection was mounted in the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2005, another one in the Fondation Baur in Geneva in 2018 and most recently in the Musée Guimet in Paris in 2024.

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