New Book | Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Royal Collection
John Ayers, Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 3 volumes (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2016), 1296 pages, ISBN: 978-1905686490, £150 / $250.
The Royal Collection includes some of the most important examples of Eastern applied art in the Western world, reflecting the West’s long-standing appetite for rarities from distant lands. With more than 2,000 objects distributed across the royal residences in England and Scotland, the collection represents a rich cross-section of Chinese and Japanese porcelains, jades, lacquers, and other works of art.
This three-volume catalogue raisonné covers this substantial and important collection in comprehensive detail. It includes for the first time the many eighteenth- and nineteenth-century bronze mounts that are such a striking feature of the collection. Made in French and British workshops to enhance the objects they display, the mounts themselves are often of superb quality and of great historical importance.
More than 2,400 colour images are used to illustrate the collection, including intricate decorative details and makers’ marks. Introductory essays cover the history and development of the collection and the ways in which these works of art have been displayed in the royal palaces and adapted according to the fashions of the day.
Volume One presents the Chinese ceramics of the Ming and Qing dynasties in chronological order (continued in Volume Two). In addition, due to their unique historical significance, the contents of the collection at Hampton Court Palace are presented here separately. Volume Two continues the works of the Qing dynasty, and ends with the Japanese works; the volume also contains a special focus on the European mounts that were added to works of Chinese and Japanese porcelain during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Volume Three contains non-porcelain works, namely lacquer, jade and other hardstones, carved ivories, textiles and metalwork. Many of these works came into the Royal Collection as Imperial gifts, to George III, Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, and Queen Alexandra, with the exception of the Japanese lacquer wares, which were acquired for George IV to furnish the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. Although not much studied, these pieces were admired by the royal family, and Chinese rooms were created at Windsor and Sandringham House, decorated with an eclectic mixture of European chinoiserie and authentic works of Asian art.