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A Record of West Travel: Overseas Collection and Study of Chinese Ancient Jade -- 112th Session of Beihong Forum was Successfully Completed.


On the evening of December 4, 2020, at 6:30 PM, the 112th session of Beihong Forum was held by the School of Fine Arts in Room 501, Yuanmei Building, Xianlin Campus, Nanjing Normal University. The lecture was given by Ms. Chu Xin. The lecture attracted many teachers and students, and the academic atmosphere was strong.

Chu Xin is doctor from the Department of Arts, Chinese University of Hong Kong, one of Overseas high-level talents. She once worked in the Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology of Fudan University and was the specially invited curator of the Cultural Heritage Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is mainly engaged in the research of ancient Chinese jade and ancient art history, the historical research of overseas cultural relics spreading and collection, and the planning and implementation of international art exhibitions in museums.

This lecture focused on the history of modern jade collection, tracing the fate of these exquisite works of art being collected overseas. At the beginning, Ms. Chu took the ancient Chinese jade as an entry point and described various kinds of ancient jade bearing the history and culture of 6,000 years of China. Chinese jade has a long history. And China enjoys the reputation of "the country of jade". Ms. Chu emphasized that China is a history of jade. It is a continuous history. Chinese people have a special feeling for jade, which is not only a symbol of wealth, status and dignity, but also a portrayal of personality and sentiment. In the eyes of westerners, these spiritual qualities or inner spirits are difficult to understand, partly because of different cultural origins. 

Ms. Chu also talked about how jade was brought into the aesthetic field and research vision of western art history scholars, collectors and museums through the hands of Chinese antique collectors and art dealers. They made mutual achievements and thus established a rich collection system of overseas Chinese ancient jade. For example, wu Dacheng (1835-1902), an official in the Qing Dynasty who was a collector of Chinese antiquities, left works on the systematic study of ancient jade. Before that, it was mostly under the name of "atlas" and "Catalogue", which focused on objective description and static record of the collection, but did not conduct in-depth research. Wu Dacheng's book Ancient Jade Map Examination, compiled and completed in the fifteenth year of Guangxu Emperor, is of landmark significance in the study of ancient jade. C. T. Loo, an antique dealer in the Republic of China (1880-1957) sold a large number of ancient Chinese artifacts to Europe and the United States, including bronzes, jadeware, etc. Ms. Chu emphasized that Loo Qinzhai brought artworks to the West, whose more important significance lies in that the West had a new taste of Chinese art, and it can even be said that the West had an appreciation of Chinese art since he began.

Ms. Chu also mentioned that Freer, Winthrop and others were also involved in the discussion. Charles Lang Freer (1854.2.25-9.25, 1919.9.25), an American collector, bought up Chinese antiquities and got to know many Chinese dealers. In the early 19th century, Freer bought a large number of Liangchu ancient jade from You Xiaoxi. It was precisely because of the mutual circulation of jade market at home and abroad that people had a deeper understanding and appreciation of Oriental art. As Freer famously said, "Don't show me paintings from the Ming Dynasty." On the one hand, we can see his interest in collecting. On the other hand, it also shows the essence of his collection. Grenville L. Winthrop (1864-1943) led the craze of studying Chinese ancient jade abroad. His collection of Chinese ancient jade represented the highest level and the highest specification of Chinese ancient jade.

Ms. Chu also described the archaeological discoveries and new unearthed materials over the past half century. She said the new findings could help identify artifacts that have been unearthed too early for information. Because it can improve or enhance the understanding of it, give us new thinking. The wonderful content of this lecture enlighten students how to better understand these ancient jade and discover the historical background and profound meaning behind it.

At the end of the lecture, the students asked questions actively. Ms. Chu answered questions for the students and shared and communicated with them.