Category Archives: Ancient Art

HK – Miles upon Miles: World Heritage along the Silk Road- HK Museum of history


Miles upon Miles: World Heritage along the Silk Road,

Hong Kong Museum of History, TSIM SHA TUI EXIT P2

Closed on Tuesdays

Ticket : 20 hkd


Paris – Louvre Museum- Francis I and the Dutch Arts


Francois Ier,detail, Jean Clouet, Circa 1530, oil on wood, Paris, musee du Louvre.

That exhibition, on display until January 2018, brings French Renaissance back to life. If the court of Francis I is famous for its brilliant livestyle and fashion, that beautiful exhibition underlines the influence of Flemish and Dutch Masters in a period which has always been described as very Italian.


3 Men with barrels, Master of Dinteville (Bartholomeus Pons?), 1537, Städel Museum, Franckfort 

With many artefacts such as portraits, paintings, altar pieces, tapestries, fine books and stainglass windows, Francis I and the Duch Arts reveals the very new research led by Art Historians about the influence and work of Northern artist in 16th century France.


Joos van Cleve, portrait, Eleonore of Austria, c 1530, Royal collection Trust, R.E.II

Forgotten names, such as Godefroy le Batave, Noël Bellemare, Grégoire Guérard, Bartholomeus Pons, reappear on the foreground of one of the most vivid era of fine craftsmenship in Europe.


Francois Ier et l’art des Pays-Bas- Musée du Louvre,  Hall Napoléon

Where: 99 rue de Rivoli, 75001 – M° Louvre-Rivoli

When: Until January 15th 2018 –  Monday to Sunday:  9 am – 6 pm – Closed on Tuesdays. Night visits on Wed. and Fri,  until 10 pm

Tickets: 15 €

HK – Science Museum – Eternel Life – Exploring Ancient Egypt – Mummies


That special exhibition, on show until October 18, focuses on archeological findings in Tombs from Ancient Egypt, along with the high tech belonging to excavation methods. FASCINATING!


With 6 Egyptian Mummies dating back from 3000 to 1800 years ago, and 200 objects from the British Museum, the tour provides the visitors with digital screens allowing to undress the bandages around the death and to virtually see the inside of the mummie. This non invasive technique is called Computerized Tomography scanning: CT, and it is already changing the way scientists look at relics and tombs.



Venue : Hong Kong Science Museum

Hours : 10 – 19 closed on Thursday

Admission: 20 HKD



UK – Hampton Court – Tudor’s palace – Mantegna – Triumphs of Cesar


Hampton Court is not only the Tudor’s palace, but also an important place for Stuart rulers.  The most famous for his art collection, Charles I, purchased a huge set by Mantegna in 1629, from Francesco II Gonzagua of Mantua. The cartoons have been on display in the palace’s Orangery from 1630 onwards, and will be until October 30.


From December  2017 to May 2018, those 9 paintings, tempera on canvas,  will be on display at the exhibition dedicated to Charles II, Art and Power, an exhibition organised by the Royal Collection Trust at The Queen’s gallery – Buckingham Palace.



Hong Kong – Birthday celebrations during the Qing Dynasty – HK Museum of History – until October 9 2017


Painted Panel Depicting Emperor Qianlong Celebrating the Eightieth Birthday of Empress Dowager Chongqing, Qianlong reign (1736-1795)


If you haven’t been yet, that exhibition, “Longevity and Virtues: Birthday Celebrations of the Qing Emperors and Empress Dowagers”  is a must see !!!!!

The exhibition allows to understand the importance of longevity in Imperial China, along with the respect surrounding elderly people, especially the very rare figures aged over 80 years old,  Maodie in Chinese.

With about 210 0bjects, the exhibition showcases lacquers, ceramics, precious zitan wood furniture, textiles, official seals, scrolls and inks, among which, loans from the Palace Museum.

From official presents to new tableware commemorating the jubilee, from poems sending blessings to opera performances showing eternel peace, the Imperial birthdays, were divided into 3 phases;  Congratulation Procession – Banquet – Opera  and were one of the key moments of the Chinese calendar, after  New Year and Winter Solstice.


Large Blue and White Vase with Ten Thousand Longevity Characters, Kangxi reign (1662-1772)

The tour focuses on 3 major events:

  • Celebration of Emperor Kangxi’s 60th birthday: marking the beginning of a tradition of public ceremonies.
  • Cebration of Empress Dowager Chongqing’s 80th Birthday, Emperor’s Qianlong’s mother : A reign which was able to see 5 generations living under the same roof, a true miracle at that time.
  • Celebration of Empress Dowager Cixi’s 60th Birthday: the last grand celebration of the Qing dynasty.


A tour assisted by a precious audioguide.

Venue: Hong Kong Museum of History

Fee: 30 hkd + 10 for audioguide

closed on Tuesdays

Christie’s sale preview – Sunday November 26 – Rosemary Scott – Flowers and Birds in Chinese Ceramics


Blue and White magpie and prunus moonflask, Yongzheng period (1723–1735).  Image courtesy: Christies

Flowers and Birds

The first depictions of both motives were focusing on the food and supply rather than on aesthetics. The emerging use for art dates back from 265-420 with 2 painters specialised in it. During the Tang Dynasty, about 80 painters were recorded for bird and flower paintings. Naturalistic groups were painted on 2 dimentional works but also on ceramics.


Image 1 peacocks. 12-14th c by Zhang Daquian or after him.

The pieces from the Changsha kilns show examples of Tang dynasty ceramics with birds and flowers. During the Song dunasty, Cui Boas a painter – 11th, shows the rise of popularity in painting plums blossom. In the Song dynasty,  an imperial painting academy was established by emperor Huizong 1101-1125. Pillows for tombs were also decorated with the Yibi style ( literaty style) showing birds or animals, for instance the Tiger pillow from Jin dynasty excavated in 1996.


image 4: Zhao Mengfu

Painter at court for Kubulai Khan, Zhao Mengfu, painted in a manner tending to go back to Song classics, such as Wang Yuan,painter from 1280 to 1349. In the Yuan dynasty, Porcelain was painted with birds and flowers but motives were still limited, mainly  Lotus and ducks.


Image 5 : Bian Lu

Ming and Qing dynasty:

Naturalistic paintings emerged on porcelain with the Ming. In 15th century, birds went from vase to dishes and cricket jars. Then, hen, chicks and chicken cups became fashionable. Birthday plates and flasks with enamels were also bearing birds.Wild geese were very popular as well. They appeared as early as Song dynasty and related to the many symbols of geese, each position matching a blessing or a symbol.

Ming and Qing dynasty pieces with birds and flowers are now the most expensive pieces of imperial porcelains. During the Qing dynasty,  Castiglione  or Mao Yi painted many panels which are highly valued today. 


For the Imperial Court:

Qing porcelain from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art

Rosemary E. Scott, Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art

OCS lecture – November 22 -Yue Ware and Longquan Ware by Lai Suk Yee

For the 24th  OCS Annual general meeting, Ms. Lai Suk Yee gave a lecture on Yue Ware and Longquan Ware : Tributes to Court and Commodities for Export


Yue ware bowl with carved lotus petal motif, 10th century; Diameter 16 cm, base 8.5 cm, height 8 cm

What is the difference between Yue Ware and Longquan Ware?


Lai Suk Yee refered to the Period from Tang to Yuan dynasties, so from 8 to 14th centuries.


  • In the Wuyue kingdom – in the area of Bianjing, Yue Ware were produced in the Yue kilns. There is however a difference for Yue ware  : the green-based coming from  South and the White based Xing Ware from  North.
  • They were replacing bronzes and lacquerware for daily use.
  • Is one better than the other? The writer Lu Yu (733-804) wrote a book on classic tea in 780 and placed Yue Ware higher than Xing Ware.
  • During the Tang and the 5 dynasties period, Wuyue region was at peace so the Yue Ware developped. The emperors, from 893 to 978, were devoted to bouddhism and enjoyed Yue ware with lotus patterns. It influenced other regions, even Corea.

  • Dragons, lotus and phoenics motives were either hand carved or moulded, with a technology transfer from metal to ceramic.


Many shipwrecks were discovered lately with Yue Ware loads. The HK Museum of History organised an exhibition: “Across the Oceans: the Local Connections and Global Dimensions of China’s Maritime Silk Road”, until December 27th, with some items recovered in 1988 in a shipwreck, dating 826. Another shipwreck shows later examples from second half of 10 th century, found in 2005. Those discoveries underline the interest for Yue Ware in Asia and how it provided luxury trade at the time with mass manufactured ceramics.

Across the Oceans : 26/10/2016 – 27/12/2016 Free admission Venue: Special Exhibition Gallery, Hong Kong Museum of History

The secret Ware: What is the Mise Ware?


Mise Ware, meaning secret color, and glass ware from Famen temple were found in the 1980s and show exotic shapes and colors. It seemed the jade like color and texture of MISE Ware are still difficult to explain nowadays. According to the pictures showed, those secret colored wares were looking very much like jades.

Sourhern Song dynasty : Longquan Ware


Longquan ware Saucer dish with slip design of antelope and foliate edge 1279

Moving from North to South, the Song court was missing bronze ritual vessels.New ware were to be produced for domestic market and export, through the silk road. The uprising of Longquan Ware started with shapes inherited from Yue Ware. They put many layers of glaze to imitate the Yue glaze in green jade color. The Longquan established white bodies for mass production and luxury trade. Popular shapes emerged.

Zhu yu , Pingzhou Ketan, 1119 : book on seagoing trade and ships of the period.

With the Yuan, new shapes emerged, for instance with iron spots. It brought merchants great fortunes. It continued to be a great export good until early Qing.


Covered ewer with incised floral design Longquan ware. Ming Dynasty