Mathilde HK at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum – “The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Chairs for Viewing the World through Time”

You like design?

You like Decorative Arts?

You are found of connections between Western Art and Chinese Art?

The Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department launched an exhibition entitled “The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Chairs for Viewing the World through Time”, organized by the Heritage Museum. That very detailed exhibition displays more than 100 seating furniture dating from antiquity to the end of the post second world war period. The thematic layout allows the visitor to draw comparison between Western and Asian models. The pieces have high provenance, being selected among 9 major Museums worldwide. However, one can stress the numerous loans from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and The Metropolitan Museum, New York.


Chinese sedan chair, used by the bride on the wedding ceremony, Qing Dynasty, picture@visualartscalendarhongkong

The overall display follows a thematic order and is divided into different sections: Chairs representing power and symbols of authority, religious furniture in churches and temples, chairs for everyday life such as children chairs, medical chairs, or chairs as means of locomotion. Then, the visitor can look at thrones, funeral or ritual stools, rocking chairs,day chairs or sofas, gouty chairs or sedan chairs, that traveled throughout the age. In the same space, everyday life pieces are facing royal or imperial commissions. According to me, the real asset of such showcase is the iconography linked to each piece. Indeed, the exhibition provides pictures, engravings or paintings, displaying the chairs at stake. That documentation is precious to stimulate the understanding of both cultural and historical background of each seat.


My favorite Piece among the Chinese chairs:


Chinese Antler Armchair, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period (1661-1722), Overall height: 131cm, Width: 92cm, Depth: 76.5cm, China, The palace Museum, picture@the palace Museum

Among the Chinese pieces on display, the Antler Armchair coming from the Palace Museum and dated from the Qing Dynasty, XVIII th century, is the most unusual chair. This beautiful piece was inherited from Manchu taste and I found a very good description of it in an online dictionary for Chinese art: “The armchair has two antlers holding a wooden splat as its back. Two larger antlers, the base of which are connected by a fragment of the skull, form curved arm rests. The solid board seat of the chair is made of Huanghuali rosewood, while its front and side edges are slightly concave. The four edges are covered with ox horn and inlaid with an ivory bowstring. On the chair seat, bones in design of interlocking clouds support the antlers. Four antlers comprise the legs. The wooden footstool is supported by horns of baby deer…On the splat is the Qianlong Emperor”s (r. 1736-1795) poetic inscription in official script (li shu), which was composed in the thirty-seventh year of the Qianlong era (1772). The poem tells that the antlers are from deer hunted by his grandfather the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1622-1722)


The most unexpected chair I selected:

images Main-engraving-of-chair

The Bidford Chair, An oak and walnut panel-back armchair, Elizabethan Period, England,

“One of the first chair you encounter while coming in the exhibition hall is the Bidford Chair, usually on display in the Shakespeare center of Bidford-on-Avon, next to Shakespeare birthplace. The story associated with this chair is that it is reputed to be the chair Shakespeare sat in whilst competing in a drinking competition at the old Falcon Inn, Bidford-on-Avon, during the XVII th century. Carved onto the panel are Shakespeare’s Coat of Arms and the initials ‘W A S’ for ‘William and Anne Shakespeare’.  The initials were carved at a later date than the Coat of Arms. Although the authenticity of the piece is not proved, I fond it rather amusing to see it at the Heritage Museum.

As the Shakespeare Trust mentions: “It was purchased by Samuel Ireland in 1792.  According to Ireland, he bought the chair from Anne Hathaway’s cottage.  He spoke to a member of the Hathaway family still living in the cottage who said that it had been given to them by Lady Elizabeth Barnard, Shakespeare granddaughter.  In his book Confessions, Ireland’s son William Henry, recalled his visit with his father to Shottery.  He remembered the ‘old oak chair, wherein it was stated our bard was used to sit, during his courtship, with his Anne upon his knee’.  Henry himself was doubtful about the authenticity of the chair.  The carved initials may have been his handiwork.”


Topics and Keywords:

Solo: topics to focus on

Decorative Arts, Design, Furniture, Craftsmanship, Antiquities, thrones, barber and medical chairs, Chinese ornaments, wood-carving, upholstery.

Combo: on the same topic

Liang Yi Museum
146, Hollywood road, Hong Kong
Ticket: 200 HKD per pax

The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: Chairs for Viewing the World through Time
Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Thematic Galleries 1 & 2
7 June 2014 – 15 September 2014

Mathilde HK at Liang Yi Talks August Edition – 05 August 2014

You like Chinese History?
You like Archeology?
You want to know more about antique China?


Bronze Ritual Wine Vessel, Fanglei

Late Shang/Early Western Zhou dynasty 12th/11th century BC
(63.6 cm.) high

For the August edition, Ling Chiang, founder of Oi Ling Antiques gallery on 58 Hollywood road and creator of the Chinese Cultural Studies Center, introduced us to the antique Chinese bronzes of the Shang Dynasty (1600-1000BC). The famous art lover started working in Hong Kong as a teacher and quickly set up a workshop for antique furniture restoration. She became a huge specialist in ancient Chinese ritual vessels since. On that precise talk, Ling Chiang selected a piece which fetched a price record at Christie’s and is quite famous for its size and history: The “Min” Fanglei. Fanglei is the name given to ancient ritual vessels dedicated mainly to wine during the Shang dynasty, a dominant dynasty along the Yellow River, actually the earliest archaeologically recorded dynasty in Chinese History.

I heard about the talk from the Liang Yi Museum newsletter and I should say the public was much more local that time, gathering Chinese people and many more men than the previous July edition. The lecture was divided into two parts, one describing the Shang Bronze vessels and the piece at stake, the second one describing the founding sites and the archeological work of Chinese Historians in Hunan.

Antique Bronze Vessels in China

Our lecturer gave us some insight about traditional antique bronzes at that time. One has to know that each vases found in Hunan Tombs were signed and marked. Each piece bore inscriptions mentioning the name of the commissioner as well as the name of the person the Fanglei was dedicated to. While round shape vessels were quite common, square ceremonial vessels were to be made only for very high figures. The hierarchy of the tomb owner was given by the size, weight and shape of the vases buried with the dead: that is to say only the daughter or consort of the king, a famous counselor, or top-officials, would have large bronze dishes buried with them.

The King of the Fanglei

The Bronze vase called the ‘Min’ Fanglei was discovered by villagers at Qijiahe, Taoyuan County in Hunan Province, China, in 1922. Ling Chiang explained us the way the piece first occurred on the market. In 1922, as soon as people found out about excavations of ancient tombs and bronzes, an art dealer came to purchase the massive Fanglei piece. The villagers felt they could do more money out of it by separating the lid from the pot. They sold the pot to the dealer who felt the atmosphere quite uncertain and decided to run away while the villagers were deciding whether they should sale him the lid or not. In 1956, that Fanglei lid reappeared on display in the Hunan provincial Museum. The pot went still missing. In 1992, the former head curator of the Shanghai Museum recognized a huge bronze vessels deprived from its lid in Japan and try to acquire it. At least, in 2001, the original Bronze pot was sold at auction by Christie’s New York. An anonymous group of private collectors from China’s Hunan province has then offered to purchase the ‘Min’ Fanglei and donate this  bronze to the Hunan Provincial Museum in China. In 2014, the Fanglei went back to Hunan province Museum: it set a world record for any Asian work of art.

Dating Chinese Archaic bronzes

What I found the most interesting was the difficulty academics and art historians found to date such pieces. Is the Min Fanglei from the Shang or the Zhou period? from 1200 B.C. or from 700 B.C.? Although the inscriptions at the back of the Fanglei mention both tomb owner and vase maker, opinions are divided about the date of the signs. The pieces with high profile provenance are the most collected ones and our lecturer stressed the number of fakes in that era. She also mentioned the number of looted works of archeology in contemporary China and the will of the government to either acquire or protect the antique treasures of China.

Topics and Keywords:

Solo: topics to focus on

Archaic bronzes, Shang dynasty, Zhou dynasty, chinese antiquities, Fanglei,

Combo: on the same topic

Chinese Bronze department of HKU Museum

University Museum and Art Gallery
The University of Hong Kong
90 Bonham Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

Liang Yi Museum talks – August edition

“King of the Fanglei: A Bronze from the Shang Dynasty”
by Oi Ling Chiang
5th August, 7pm
free admission
Register at:

Mathilde HK at Hong Kong Book Fair

You like reading novels, essays, biographies?

You never have enough books to read ?

You want to find material in both Chinese and English?


Hong Kong Book Fair 2014, @

On Saturday, I went to the annual Book Fair of Hong Kong, at the Convention and Exhibition Center. The first edition took place in 1990 and this year 2014 was the 25th edition of an event gathering thousands of eager readers and students. In comparison to the Foire aux Livres in Paris, that fair is a major event: the number of attendance is raising every year, approaching a million visitors lately. Created by the the Hong Kong Publishing Federation, the fair offers a good opportunity to editors, booksellers, writers, e-learning programs and academics to promote their works. The exhibition halls are open quite late in the evening, up to 10 or 12 p.m. and visitors are invited to register for talks and autograph sessions taking place everyday. That year, the fair promoted about 300 cultural events.


I heard of the fair by a Hong Kong Friend: Tracy. We went together to the HKCEC, following a crowd that I would not have expected. We queued for 20 minutes before entering the fair. We first visited the stationery stands that had huge promotions and a wide rank of top quality products. As for the books pavilions, the Books were mainly in Chinese and they were only a few westerners in the public. However, the English section called English Avenue was large and I found many books on Chinese history at a very low price.


The 2014 Book Fair Exhibition:  ‘The Hong Kong Story: A Century of Books’

For the 25th edition, the organizer launched an exhibition on the Evolution of Printing in Hong Kong that was rather interesting to understand the importance of Hong Kong for the development of  printed literature in Chinese or China. There are three main publishers still in activity in Hong Kong nowadays: The Commercial Press, settled in Central in 1914, Chung Hwa Book Company established in 1933 and joint publishing HK founded in 1948. Besides those great companies, many foreigners or China-based publishers settled in Hong Kong.

The exhibition was divided into 8 sections focusing on the development of publishing companies in Hong Kong during the XXth century.  Textbooks, gazettes, magazines, books and novels were printed in Hong Kong and then distributed to Mainland China after the revolution. In the 1980s, Hong Kong had adopted a very modern printing technology while the book industry was blooming. Hong Kong became then the second largest printing products port of export in Asia. While the publishing industry was decentralized from Mainland China to Hong Kong during the post Second World War period, things happened to be reversed after 1980s and more and more printing factories established their premises back in Mainland China for economical purposes. The digital printing facilities are now transforming the Hong Kong printing industry while e-books and e-learning technologies started to have a huge success. I discovered then that Hong Kong is a huge market for publishers and that people here are real book amateurs.

My selection of titles:

The Opium War by Julia Lovell. An account on the first Opium War in China.

Dominion by C.J. Sansom. An historical thriller in 1950s Britain.

Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang. A biography of the last Empress of China.


Topics and Keywords:

Solo: topics to focus on

Printing industries, book fair, readers, novels, books, autographs, school textbooks, cultural events, HKCEC, digital printing.

Combo: on the same topic

Shanghai Book Fair 2014 – 1 to 10 August 2014
Shanghai Exhibition Center


Hong Kong Book Fair

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center – Wan  Chai

16 – 22 July 2014

16-17 July 2014 (Wed-Thur) 10am-10pm
18-19 July 2014 (Fri-Sat) 10am-12 midnight
20-21 July 2014 (Sun-Mon) 10am-10pm
22 July 2014 (Tue) 9am-5pm






Mathilde HK and Contemporary Ceramic in Hong Kong

You would like to learn more about contemporary Ceramic?

You make a collection of hand-made teapots and vases?

You want to acquire authentic pieces?

I like Ceramic in general, Porcelain in particular. I used to work in Paris for the fine porcelain brand, made in Limoges: Haviland. I am collecting earthenware and want to guide you if you are looking for collecting in Hong Kong. As soon as I arrived in 2013, I wanted to buy true Chinese earthenware, vases, pots and tableware. I also wanted to find a pottery place where I could meet artists and eventually learn about Chinese techniques. I was looking for both affordable and top quality pieces I could be completely sure about. I was curious about hand-made objects that wouldn’t be fakes.

Let me share my findings with you.

Contemporary hand-made Pottery in Hong Kong:

The Pottery Workshop

The first thing I looked for when I arrived was an education center for traditional Ceramic making and earthenware. I found out about a place on Hollywood road called the Pottery Workshop, a real institution in Hong Kong, existing since 1985. The studio sponsors contemporary artists, houses exhibitions, does residences and provides the public with individual or group classes of very good quality. They have workshops in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Jingdezhen, the mecca for Chinese Porcelain and the biggest studio of the whole organization.

The Hong Kong Workshop displays the artists’ creations in a small gallery and has an online shop which is in Chinese only. They are not as big as the Jingdezhen center but they are very active.  The Collection they sale is large, from dinnerware and teapots to design pieces.  The prices are reasonable and the pieces are mainly earthenware.

My selection of Mugs:

57_P_1403307544695         56_P_1403307137679

The Pottery Worshop, online shop,

The Design Studio created by the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen displays various pieces, such as customized dishes, Chinese contemporary vases decorated with bats, white ceramic tales, and porcelain figures. The quality rank of their products is high, since they are mostly made of porcelain, and so are the prices.

My selection of Porcelain wares:

photo 2

photo 1

Design Studio,The Pottery Workshop of Jingdezhen,

Fine contemporary Porcelain in Hong Kong:

Shanghai Tang Collections

Shanghai Tang, the Hong Kong luxury brand created in 1994, designed porcelain ware that are already on display in Decorative Arts Museums, such as The Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  The 1997 mud called ‘Leader and Flags’, is a Porcelain transfer printed in enamels depicting Mao Zedong. The decoration was created by Shanghai Tang after the painting made by Wang Ziwei in 1989 and is now housed at the V&A, in the Factory Ceramics galleries.


‘Leader and Flags’, 1997 Shanghai Tang, Hong Kong, V&A,

The luxury brand continues on creating porcelain inspired by traditional China that is of good quality, even though it is not hand-made. The designer Jacky Tsai, for instance, was commissioned  Blue and White tableware for the brand. According to me, the 2014 Lotus Porcelain Collection is a real best seller. The price for the dining set is expensive but it is a real artwork signed by a famous artist.


Lotus Play, 2014, Shanghai Tang, Jacky Tsai,

Art gallery specialized in Contemporary Ceramic in Hong Kong :

The Nec Gallery

Located on Hollywood road, the Gallery Nec displays an important collection of contemporary artists working on one specific medium: ceramic. Created in Paris in 2001 by Roger Nilsson and Alain Chiglien, the gallery promotes works that are very innovative and refined. Among the artists the Nec Gallery represents, I selected Steen Ipsen, whose work remind me of cells and DNA schemes.


Steen Ipsen, Tied up 35, 2012,


Topics and Keywords:

Solo: topics to focus on

Ceramic, pottery, craftsman, workshop, pottery classes, clay, dinnerware, tea ware, hand-made earthenware, artists, Decorative Arts, Visual Arts

Combo: on the same topic

2013 Tea Ware by Hong Kong Potters – Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware (1/F)
Until 2014.9.8

Free admission












Mathilde HK to Liang Yi Talks – July 8

You want to learn more about late XIX th century art collectors ?
You went to New York and liked the Frick Collection?
You are curious about Hotels Particuliers and private art collections?

On Tuesday, I went to the July Edition of the Liang Yi talks. Veronique Chagnon Burke, director of Christies’s Education, gave us a lecture on: ‘The Gilded Age of art Collectors’, an inquiry with 4 examples: The Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in Boston, The Wallace Collection in London, The Jacquemart-André Collection in Paris and The Frick Collection in New York. Those collections were built between 1890s and 1930s and perfectly reflect the definition of Gilded age created by Marc Twain. They illustrate both philanthropist and social purposes expressed by new Western fortunes, especially American business men.


The Wallace Collection – Hertford House, Manchester Square, London W1U 3BN, United Kingdom

I was very happy to listen to such a passionate professor. I must confess I went to those 4 museums several times, so I felt just like at home, especially concerning the Wallace, which was my studying place back in 2007-2008. I went to the talk thanks to my friends who mentioned those conferences to me. I met Tracy Wong at the lecture and was amused to count only 2 men in the room…Such monthly talks are free and embrace many different topics, do not hesitate joining!!!


The Fragonard room – The Frick Collection – 1 E 70th St, New York, NY 10021, United States

The interesting highlights:

It would be very difficult to select one specific collection among those four giants of Fine Arts and Decorative Arts. However, our lecturer distinguished two categories: the mansions in which both the collector and the pieces pursue an everyday life and the Collections on display in a museum specially tailor-made for them, where the owner never actually lived. She also made a difference between the educative mission of such private collections. Whereas The Frick collection had a strong academic concern, the Jacquard-Andre in France never considered opening any library or research department in their premises.


The Isabella Steward Gardner Museum – 25 Evans Way
Boston, MA 02115, United States

What I learned from it:

What I found very interesting is the way each collection was linked to music and concert experiences. Their owners created the museum’s layout in such a way the visitor would see beautiful things along with a touch of music. This was meant to lead the public to excellence and beauty, in a kind of moral education typical of the age of positivism.. What is also exciting is to consider what the two women and two men decided to collect. Another thing was the taste they all had: While the French collectors never look at their contemporaries, the impressionists and so on, the American collectors never acquired American works or pieces on American topics. The four Collections focus on Italian and Flemish Old Master paintings, XVIII th century Furniture and Decorative Arts. They do not display any chronological series and were designed to give an alternative to encyclopedic knowledge.


The oval room, The Jacquemart – Andre Museum- 158, bd Haussmann 75008 Paris, France

Topics and Keywords:

Solo: topics to focus on in that exhibition
Decorative Arts, Fine Arts, Louis XVI furniture, Bernard Berenson

Combo: On the same topic:

The Nissim de Camondo Collections

Liang Yi Talks: July Edition by Veronique Chagnon-Burke – Liang Yi Museum
8 July 2014
Ticket: free entry
20 seats only!

Mathilde HK at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum

You always dreamed about traveling on the glamorous liners ?
You are curious about the interior decoration and lifestyle they displayed during the 1930s?
French Cruise lines, such as the Normandie or the France, are familiar to you?

The French May festival launched an exhibition at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum:’Palaces on the Seas:the Golden Age of French Ocean Liners”‘. I visited the exhibition, which features posters, pictures, drawings, tickets, uniforms, suitcases and decorative objects, from two major French cruise lines: La Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and Les Messageries Maritimes. During the 1930s, the line Paris-Hong Kong launched a departure to France every two weeks. The connection was capital for French commercial activities.
In order to learn more, I also attended a lecture on ‘The Messageries Maritimes in Hong Kong, 1918-1940’. The talk was given by Francois Dremeaux, already famous for his studies and publications on the History of French people in Hong Kong. The Museum is giving free talks, either in Cantonese or in English, with topics that are always mixing local stories with History.

I was aware of that new exhibition thanks to the French May team. It actually reminded me of a former exhibition sponsored in Paris by the Musee National de la Marine: Paquebot France, in 2011.

My favorite space:

Not only is the museum team ready to give your children a nice tour with costumes and jeu de roles, but they also provide you with a deck and a game which was very popular on board: le Palet. Although the rules are not familiar to us anymore, I thought it was very detailed and hands-on to recreate such a game inside the exhibition.


Poster, Messageries Maritimes, Japon Extreme-Orient, Georges Taboureau, 1920

My favorite objects:

The French Liners to Asia, designed by the Messageries Maritimes, were extremely luxurious. The ships of the 1930s had refined names such as: Atos, Portos, Aramis, or Chambord, Chenonceau… and were well furnished. Tableware was made of Porcelain and Crystal. The best French manufactures were in charge of creating a special tableware, a showcase for French gastronomy. Haviland-Limoges, which made the porcelain for the famous France, was also producing the fine white dishes for the Messageries Maritimes, while Daum was manufacturing the glasses for the ships. The Silversmith was very ‘Bauhaus like’ and stamped by Ercuis and Christofle. All the artifacts were stamped with an anchor and an unicorn, symbols of the Messageries Maritimes since its creation in 1796.


Fist-class diner table from The Normandie, ‘Atlas’ and ‘Transat’ silver-plated tableware by Christofle, picture@mathildeHK

Topics and Keywords:

Solo: topics to focus on in that exhibition
Decorative Arts, Posters, Maritime Objects, Memorabilia, Tableware, Lifestyle, Sketches, Models boat.

Combo: On the same topic

‘Palaces on the Seas: the Golden Age of French Ocean Liners’ – Hong Kong Maritime Museum
28 May to 26 August 2014
Ticket: 30 HKD

Mathilde HK at Sotheby’s Spring Sale – April 2014

You like going to Auction Houses?
You enjoy Chinese Art?
You are curious about old master pieces or new talents?

Last April, I went on a guided tour to the Sotheby’s Selling Exhibition: Spring sale, April 4-8, in Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The Objects on display were mainly Chinese. Sotheby’s and Christie’s display their seasonal exhibitions in Hong Kong at least twice a year. The public is allowed to visit the departments’ showcases for free, before the actual auctions. Two different eras drew my attention that time: Contemporary inks on paper on display with Chinese Furniture and Ceramics.

I heard about that VIP tour through the Oriental Ceramic Society. The visit took place on Sunday, April the 6th, at 8.45 a.m. The main celebrity who gave us a private view on the Chinese ceramic collection was the Chairman for Sotheby’s Asia: Nicolas Chow. I was delighted to benefit from his knowledge.

Not to mention the many other beautiful artefacts on sale that season, I must talk about the porcelain cup which became a real star after the sale: THE MEIYINTANG ‘CHICKEN CUP’. That very tiny piece of Chinese porcelain decorated with cocks and chickens is a real treasure. They are only 16 pieces alike to be found in the world. That precise cup Nicolas Chow presented us fetched 281,240,000 HKD at auction.

My favorite room:

On such occasion, the Department of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Arts decided to launch a selling exhibition on Ancient Chinese Decorative Arts and Modern inks on paper: Contemporary Literati – A Gathering, By Nicolas Chow.
They recreated an interior and decorated it as a Chinese study with fine objects such as: Ink stones, sideboards, calligraphy tools, Buddhas and precious brush pots. The experts added very old Bonsai to the display, some of them dating from the XVIIIth century, alongside with ancient Ying scholars rocks and carved woods in the shape of big mushrooms or snakes. Above the fine Chinese furniture, part of the Hung Collection, many contemporary ink works were hung. That innovative display created a peaceful atmosphere. The whole setting was giving a real feeling of what Zen esthetic should be.


Bonsai, XVIIIth century, picture@Mathildehk

My favorite work:

The pieces I discovered were inks on silk or paper made by Chinese artists in the last decades, such as: Tai Xiangzhou, Yu Hui or Xu Lei. I must confess to be less familiar with Chinese modern and contemporary Art. One picture in particular drew my attention: a ‘Satellite’, signed by Cai Xiaosong, dated 2009, with one seal of the artist. That ink on silk with fabric mount was sold for 375,000 HKD.


‘Satellite’, ink on silk, Cai Xiaosong, 2009, picture@Mathildehk

Topics and Keywords:

Solo: Themes and Topics to focus on in that exhibition
Fine Arts, Decorative Arts, Chinese Study, Cosmos, Zen, Buddha, paintings, Ying Rocks, Chinese Furniture, old masters, Scholars, calligraphy, inks, carved wood, bonsai.

Combo: On the same topic

Sotheby’s Selling Exhibition – Spring Sale 2014
Hall 5, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Free admission

Art exhibitions and Art institutions in HK : My favourite visits, art shows and cultural discoveries downtown