New Book | The Classical Body in Romantic Britain

Posted in books by Editor on May 25, 2020

Distributed by Yale UP:

Cora Gilroy-Ware, The Classical Body in Romantic Britain (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art , 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1913107062, $50.

For many, the term ‘neoclassicism’ has come to imply discipline, order, restraint, and a certain myopia. Leaving the term behind, this book radically challenges enduring assumptions about the art produced from the late 18th century to the early Victorian period, casting new light on appropriations of the classical body by British artists. It is the first to foreground the intersections of gender, race, and class in discussions of British visual classicism, laying bare artists’ alternately politicizing and emphatically sensual engagements with Greco-Roman art. Rather than rely exclusively on subsequent scholarship, the book takes up the poet John Keats (1795–1821) as a theoretical framework. Eschewing the ‘Golden Age’ narrative, which sees J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851) as the pinnacle of the period’s artistic achievement, the book examines overlooked artists, such as Henry Howard (1769–1847) and John Graham Lough (1798–1876). The result is a fresh account of underappreciated works of British painting and sculpture.

Cora Gilroy-Ware is a scholar, artist, and curator currently working with Isaac Julien CBE RA.

Exhibition | Japan: Courts and Culture

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 16, 2020

Press release (12 November 2019) for the exhibition from the Royal Collection Trust (stay tuned for updates on the schedule; listed are the original dates). . .

 Japan: Courts and Culture
The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, 12 June — 8 November 2020

Curated by Rachel Peat

Arita, Hizen Province (Japan), Jar and Cover, 1690–1720, porcelain with moulded relief decoration and painted in underglaze blue, overglaze enamel, and gold; French mounts, 1780–1820, gilt bronze; 42.5 cm high, purchased for George IV in 1820 (Royal Collection Trust, RCIN 39239).

The Royal Collection contains one of the finest holdings of Japanese works of art in the Western world, significant for both the unique provenance and exceptional quality of the objects. Now, for the first time, highlights from the collection are brought together in the exhibition Japan: Courts and Culture, which tells the story of the diplomatic, artistic, and cultural exchanges between Britain and Japan from the reigns of James I to Queen Elizabeth II. Including rare examples of porcelain, lacquer, armour and embroidered screens, the exhibition offers a unique insight into the relationship between the imperial and royal courts over a period of 300 years.

The formation of the East India Company in 1600 paved the way for direct contact between Japan and England. In 1613, the first English ship to reach Japanese shores was captained by John Saris, who brought with him letters and gifts from James I for Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the military leader who governed Japan on behalf of the imperial family. Saris returned with a letter granting the English permission to live and trade in Japan, and with gifts for the King. These included a samurai armour, the earliest to arrive in Britain and the first surviving non-European work of art to enter the Royal Collection.

This first contact between England and Japan was short-lived. From the 1630s, for some 220 years, Japan closed to the West in an attempt to regulate foreign influence. During this time, the Dutch were the only Europeans permitted to trade directly with Japan through one small enclave at Nagasaki. Demand for exotic East Asian wares remained high in Europe, where the secrets of porcelain and lacquer manufacture were yet to be discovered.

The British royal family led the way in collecting highly prized examples of Japanese lacquer, porcelain, and textiles—much of which was produced specifically for the export market. In the 17th century, Mary II displayed Japanese porcelain in her apartments at Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace. In the 18th century, Queen Caroline, consort of George II, formed a significant collection of Japanese lacquer. A century later, George IV incorporated Japanese porcelain into the opulent decorative schemes at Carlton House in London and the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Many of the pieces acquired by the King were given new functions through the addition of elaborate gilt-bronze mounts, turning a simple jar into a pot-pourri vase and animal figures into incense burners.

When Japan reopened to the West in the 1850s, goods began to flow freely, and diplomatic and political links were re-established. Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was the first member of a European royal family to visit Japan when he arrived there in 1869 during a world naval tour. The Prince met the Emperor Meiji at the Imperial Palace, where an exchange of gifts took place, and was presented with samurai armour, including a helmet dating from 1537. In a letter to his mother, Alfred wrote: “To give you any account of this country, I feel quite at a loss. Every thing is so new & so quaint that I am quite bewildered.”

The next members of the British royal family to visit Japan were Queen Victoria’s grandsons Prince George of Wales (the future King George V) and his brother, Prince Albert Victor. In 1881, the teenage Princes were serving as midshipmen aboard HMS Bacchante and were granted shore leave to meet the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken. They returned with presents for their family, including a teapot and cups for their father, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, and with diplomatic gifts from the Emperor. According to the official diary of the tour, compiled by their tutor, the Reverend John Dalton, the Princes had their arms tattooed during their visit to Japan—Albert Victor with ‘a couple of storks’ and George with a dragon and a tiger, a combination said to signify East and West.

In the early 20th century, a defensive Anglo-Japanese Alliance was formed to secure both nations’ interests in the Pacific. This was also a period of growing artistic exchange. The most significant cultural event was the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition in London, which included demonstrations of Japanese crafts, music, sports, and entertainments. More than eight million people visited the exhibition, including Queen Mary, consort of King George V, who was an enthusiastic collector of East Asian art.

The relationship between the Japanese and British imperial and royal families has continued to flourish through reciprocal royal visits, attendance at coronations, and the exchange of gifts. In 1902, Prince Komatsu Akihito attended the coronation of King Edward VII on behalf of the Emperor Meiji and presented the King with an embroidered folding screen of the four seasons. In 1911, Queen Mary received a coronation gift of a miniature cabinet bearing the imperial chrysanthemum crest, created by Akatsuka Jitoku, one of the most accomplished lacquerers of his generation. On the occasion of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) sent Her Majesty a cosmetic box decorated with a heron by the great lacquer artist Shirayama Shōsai.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

In the United States and Canada, the catalogue is distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

Rachel Peat, ed., Japan: Courts and Culture (London: Royal Collection Trust, 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1909741683, $70.

Japan: Courts and Culture tells the story of three centuries of British royal contact with Japan, from 1603 to c.1937, when the exchange of exquisite works of art was central to both diplomatic relations and cultural communication. With discussions of courtly rituals, trade relationships, treaties, and other matters of concern between the two nations, this book provides important historical and political context in addition to granting a new look at the works of art in question. Featuring new research on previously unpublished works, including porcelain, lacquer, armor, embroidery, metalwork, and works on paper, this book showcases the unparalleled craftsmanship of these objects, and the local materials, techniques, and traditions behind them. Japan: Courts and Culture is published to accompany a spectacular exhibition of the same name, which opens at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, in June 2020. The book’s stunning photography, contextual essays, and historical insights offer a highly visual record of a royal narrative and history that has not yet been widely documented.

Rachel Peat is assistant curator of non-European works of art at Royal Collection Trust.


Foreword, HRH The Prince of Wales and Princess Akiko of Mikasa
British and Japanese Royal Family Trees
Map of Japan

1  Introduction, Rachel Peat
2  First Encounters, 1600–1639, Rachel Peat
3  Trade, 1639–1854, Rachel Peat
4  Porcelain, Melanie Wilson and Rachel Peat
5  Lacquer, Rachel Peat
6  Travel, 1854–1901, Rachel Peat
7  Samurai, Arms and Armour, Gregory Irvine
8  Metalwork, Kathryn Jones
9  Treaty, 1901–1937, Rachel Peat
10  Artistic Exchange, Kathryn Jones
11  Courtly Ritual, Caroline de Guitaut
12  Coda, Rachel Peat
13  Appendix: The Model of the Taitokuin Mausoleum, William H. Coaldrake

Timeline of Key Events

New Book | Aesthetic Science

Posted in books by Editor on May 14, 2020

From The University of Chicago Press:

Alexander Wragge-Morley, Aesthetic Science: Representing Nature in the Royal Society of London, 1650–1720 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2020), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-0226680729 (hardcover), $120 / ISBN: 978-0226680866 (paper), $40. E-books are also available.

The scientists affiliated with the early Royal Society of London have long been regarded as forerunners of modern empiricism, rejecting the symbolic and moral goals of Renaissance natural history in favor of plainly representing the world as it really was. In Aesthetic Science, Alexander Wragge-Morley challenges this interpretation by arguing that key figures such as John Ray, Robert Boyle, Nehemiah Grew, Robert Hooke, and Thomas Willis saw the study of nature as an aesthetic project.

To show how early modern naturalists conceived of the interplay between sensory experience and the production of knowledge, Aesthetic Science explores natural-historical and anatomical works of the Royal Society through the lens of the aesthetic. By underscoring the importance of subjective experience to the communication of knowledge about nature, Wragge-Morley offers a groundbreaking reconsideration of scientific representation in the early modern period and brings to light the hitherto overlooked role of aesthetic experience in the history of the empirical sciences.

Alexander Wragge-Morley is clinical assistant professor of liberal studies and history at New York University.


1  Physico-Theology, Natural Philosophy, and Sensory Experience
2  An Empiricism of Imperceptible Entities
3  In Search of Lost Designs
4  Verbal Picturing
5  Natural Philosophy and the Cultivation of Taste
Conclusion: Embodied Aesthetics


New Book | Art of the United States, 1750–2000

Posted in books by Editor on May 10, 2020

Distributed by The University of Chicago Press:

John Davis and Michael Leja and edited by Francesca Rose, Art of the United States, 1750–2000 (Chicago: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2020), 544 pages, ISBN: 978-0932171689, $39.

Art of the United States is a landmark volume that presents three centuries of US art through a broad array of historical texts, including writings by artists, critics, patrons, literary figures, and other commentators. Combining a wide-ranging selection of texts with high-quality reproductions of artworks, it offers a resource for the study and understanding of the visual arts of the United States. With contextual essays, explanatory headnotes, a chronology of US historical landmarks, maps, and full-color illustrations of key artworks, the volume will appeal to national and international audiences ranging from undergraduates and museum visitors to art historians and other scholars. Texts by a range of artists and cultural figures—including John Adams, Thomas Cole, Frederick Douglass, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Clement Greenberg, and Cindy Sherman—are grouped according to historical era alongside additional featured artists.

A sourcebook of unprecedented breadth and depth, Art of the United States brings together multiple voices throughout the ages to provide a framework for learning and critical thinking on US art.

John Davis is the provost and under secretary for museums, education, and research at the Smithsonian Institution and the author or coauthor of numerous catalogs and books, including, with Sarah Burns, the comprehensive volume American Art to 1900. Michael Leja is the James and Nan Wagner Farquhar Professor of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of numerous catalogs and books, including Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s and Looking Askance: Skepticism and American Art from Eakins to Duchamp. Francesca Rose is the program director for publications at the Terra Foundation for American Art.

New Book | The Edinburgh History of Reading

Posted in books by Editor on May 2, 2020

Spread across the volumes are essays addressing the long eighteenth century, including topics of illustrations and visual culture. From Edinburgh UP:

Mary Hammond and Jonathan Rose, eds., The Edinburgh History of Reading, 4 volumes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020), 1512 pages, 978-1474478717, £350. [Each volume is also sold individually.]

Bringing together the latest scholarship from all over the world on topics ranging from reading practices in ancient China to the workings of the twenty-first-century reading brain, the 4 volumes of The Edinburgh History of Reading demonstrate that reading is a deeply imbricated, socio-political practice, at once personal and public, defiant, and obedient. It is often materially ephemeral, but it can also be emotionally and intellectually enduring.

Volume Titles

Early Readers, edited by Mary Hammond, with contents listed here.

Early Readers presents a number of innovative ways through which we might capture or infer traces of readers in cultures where most evidence has been lost. It begins by investigating what a close analysis of extant texts from 6th-century BCE China can tell us about contemporary reading practices, explores the reading of medieval European women and their male medical practitioner counterparts, traces readers across New Spain, Peru, the Ottoman Empire and the Iberian world between 1500 and 1800, and ends with an analysis of the surprisingly enduring practice of reading aloud.

Modern Readers, edited by Mary Hammond, with contents listed here.

Modern Readers explores the myriad places and spaces in which reading has typically taken place since the eighteenth century, from the bedrooms of the English upper classes, through large parts of nineteenth-century Africa and on-board ships and trains travelling the world, to twenty-first-century reading groups. It encompasses a range of genres from to science fiction, music and self-help to Government propaganda.

Common Readers, edited by Jonathan Rose, with contents listed here.

Common Readers casts a fascinating light on the literary experiences of ordinary people: miners in Scotland, churchgoers in Victorian London, workers in Czarist Russia, schoolgirls in rural Australia, farmers in Republican China, and forward to today’s online book discussion groups. Chapters in this volume explore what they read, and how books changed their lives.

Subversive Readers, edited by Jonathan Rose, with contents listed here.

Subversive Readers explores the strategies used by readers to question authority, challenge convention, resist oppression, assert their independence and imagine a better world. This kind of insurgent reading may be found everywhere: in revolutionary France and Nazi Germany, in Eastern Europe under Communism and in Australian and Iranian prisons, among eighteenth-century women reading history and nineteenth-century men reading erotica, among postcolonial Africans, the blind, and pioneering transgender activists.

New Book | Tastemakers: British Dealers and the Anglo-Gallic Interior

Posted in books by Editor on April 30, 2020

Forthcoming from The Getty (in July) . . .

Diana Davis, The Tastemakers: British Dealers and the Anglo-Gallic Interior, 1785–1865 (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2020), 320 pages, ISBN: 978-1606066416, $65.

In this volume, Diana Davis demonstrates how London dealers invented a new and visually splendid decorative style that combined the contrasting tastes of two nations. Departing from the conventional narrative that depicts dealers as purveyors of antiquarianism, Davis repositions them as innovators who were key to transforming old art objects from ancien régime France into cherished ‘antiques’ and, equally, as creators of new and modified French-inspired furniture, bronze work, and porcelain. The resulting old, new, and reconfigured objects merged aristocratic French eighteenth-century taste with nineteenth-century British preference, and they were prized by collectors, who displayed them side by side in palatial interiors of the period.

The Tastemakers analyzes dealer-made furnishings from the nineteenth-century patron’s perspective and in the context of the interiors for which they were created, contending that early dealers deliberately formulated a new aesthetic with its own objects, language, and value. Davis examines a wide variety of documents to piece together the shadowy world of these dealers, who emerge center stage as traders, makers, and tastemakers.

Diana Davis specializes in the interface between collectors, dealers, and the art market in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.


Note to the Reader


Part 1 — Trade, Taste and Retail
1  ‘The Revised Taste of Louis the Fourteenth’
2  ‘Nos Amis, Les Enemies!: Britain and France
3  ‘The Wily Brocanteur
4  ‘The New Race of Connoisseurs’

Part 2 — The Dealer-Producer
5  Manufacturers of Antique Furniture
6  ‘Matt and Burnished Gold’
7  ‘China Painted and Gilt’
8  ‘A Burst of Splendour’: The Anglo-Gallic Interior


Appendix 1  Selected Dealer Biographies
Appendix 2  Sale Catalogs

Sources and Bibliography
About the Author
Illustration Credits

New Book | Restoring Williamsburg

Posted in books by Editor on April 20, 2020

Distributed by Yale University Press:

George Humphrey Yetter and Carl Lounsbury, Restoring Williamsburg (The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2019), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-0300248357, $50.

Today best known as the world’s largest ‘living history’ museum, Williamsburg was the capital of the colony of Virginia in the 1700s and the setting for key debates leading to the American Revolution. Inspired by growing interest in America’s colonial heritage, W. A. R. Goodwin, supported by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., initiated a major restoration in the 1920s and 1930s that has allowed visitors to see how Williamsburg looked in the 18th century. Restoring Williamsburg expands on Williamsburg Before and After, a now-classic book with more than 200,000 copies in print, offering an updated and nuanced look at the continuing process of restoration. In addition to capturing moments throughout the site’s transformation, the book offers important considerations about modern curatorial practices and changing approaches to historic preservation.

Lavishly illustrated with more than 350 photographs, watercolors, sketches, maps, and other illustrations, Restoring Williamsburg features new images from both before and after the restoration. This is an important contribution not only to architectural history and restoration practices but also to our understanding of the town that continues to inspire Americans to think about their history.

George Humphrey Yetter, who wrote Williamsburg Before and After, is the former associate curator of architectural drawings at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Carl R. Lounsbury is the former Shirley and Richard Roberts Architectural Historian at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and currently teaches history at the College of William and Mary.

New Book | Fancy in Eighteenth-Century European Visual Culture

Posted in books by Editor on April 18, 2020

From the Oxford University Studies in The Enlightenment series:

Melissa Percival and Muriel Adrien, eds., Fancy in Eighteenth-Century European Visual Culture (Liverpool: Voltaire Foundation in association with Liverpool University Press, 2020), 325 pages, ISBN: 978-1789620030, £65 / $100.

Fancy in the eighteenth century was part of a rich semantic network, connecting wit, whimsicality, erotic desire, spontaneity, deviation from norms and triviality. It was also a contentious term, signifying excess, oddness and irrationality, liable to offend taste, reason and morals. This collection of essays foregrounds fancy—and its close synonym, caprice—as a distinct strand of the imagination in the period. As a prevalent, coherent and enduring concept in aesthetics and visual culture, it deserves a more prominent place in scholarly understanding than it has hitherto occupied. Fancy is here understood as a type of creative output that deviated from rules and relished artistic freedom. It was also a mode of audience response, entailing a high degree of imaginative engagement with playful, quirky artworks, generating pleasure, desire, or anxiety. Emphasizing commonalities between visual productions in different media from diverse locations, the authors interrogate and celebrate the expressive freedom of fancy in European visual culture. Topics include: the seductive fictions of the fancy picture, Fragonard and galanterie, fancy in drawing manuals, pattern books and popular prints, fans and fancy goods, chinoiserie, excess and virtuality in garden design, Canaletto’s British capricci, urban design in Madrid, and Goya’s Caprichos.

Melissa Percival is Professor of French, Art History, and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter. She has published widely on theories of facial expression, fantasy figures, and portraits, with particular reference to eighteenth-century France; these include a monograph on Fragonard’s fantasy figures. Muriel Adrien is Associate Professor of art history and visual culture within the English Department at the University of Toulouse. She has published numerous articles on 18th- and 19th-century British and American art, especially as related to scientific contexts. She is chief editor of the online scholarly journal Miranda.


List of figure

• Melissa Percival, Introduction
• Emmanuel Faure-Carricaburu, The Fantasy Figures of Jean-Baptiste Santerre and the Limits of Generic Frameworks of Interpretation
• Christophe Guillouet, The Parisian World of Printmaking at the Heart of the Invention of a Genre? Poilly, Courtin, and Bonnart’s Fantaisies, 1713–28
• John Chu, Windows of Opportunity: The French Fantasy Figure and the Spirit of Enterprise in Early-Eighteenth-Century Europe
• Martin Postle, Modelling for the Fancy Picture in Eighteenth-Century England
• Bénédicte Miyamoto, The Influence of Drawing Manuals on the British Practice and Reception of Fancy Pictures
• Guillaume Faroult, A Galant Fantasy: Fragonard’s Fantasy Figures and The Music Lesson in Relation to Van Dyck, Watteau, and Carle Vanloo
• Pierre-Henri Biger, Fans, Fantasy, and Fancy
• Melissa Percival, Fancy as a Mode of Consumption
• Vanessa Alayrac-Fielding, ‘A Butterfly Supporting an Elephant’: Chinoiserie, Fantaisie, and ‘the Luxuriance of Fancy’
• Laurent Châtel , The Garden as Capriccio: The Hortulan Pleasures of Imagination and Virtuality
• Béatrice Laurent, Grand Tour Capricci
• Xavier Cervantes, Venetian Reminiscences and Cultural Hybridity in Canaletto’s English-period Capricci and Vedute
• Adrián Fernández Almoguera, From the Private Cabinet to the Suburban Villa: Caprices and Fantasies in Eighteenth-Century Madrid
• Andrew Schulz, Satire and Fantasy in Goya’s Caprichos
• Alice Labourg, ‘Fancy Paints with Hues Unreal’: Pictorial Fantasy and Literary Creation in Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic Novels

List of Contributors

New Book | A Fistful of Shells

Posted in books by Editor on April 16, 2020

From The U of C Press:

Toby Green, A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019), 640 pages, ISBN: 978-0226644578, $40.

By the time the “Scramble for Africa” among European colonial powers began in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for centuries. Its gold had fueled the economies of Europe and the Islamic world for nearly a millennium, and the sophisticated kingdoms spanning its west coast had traded with Europeans since the fifteenth century. Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies—most importantly, cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and nzimbu shells imported from Brazil. But, as the slave trade grew, African kingdoms began to lose prominence in the growing global economy. We have been living with the effects of this shift ever since.

With A Fistful of Shells, Toby Green transforms our view of West and West-Central Africa by reconstructing the world of these kingdoms, which revolved around trade, diplomacy, complex religious beliefs, and the production of art. Green shows how the slave trade led to economic disparities that caused African kingdoms to lose relative political and economic power. The concentration of money in the hands of Atlantic elites in and outside these kingdoms brought about a revolutionary nineteenth century in Africa, parallel to the upheavals then taking place in Europe and America. Yet political fragmentation following the fall of African aristocracies produced radically different results as European colonization took hold.

Drawing not just on written histories, but on archival research in nine countries, art, oral history, archaeology, and letters, Green lays bare the transformations that have shaped world politics and the global economy since the fifteenth century and paints a new and masterful portrait of West Africa, past and present.

Toby Green is a senior lecturer in Lusophone African history and culture at King’s College London and is author of The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589.


List of Maps
Note on Spellings/Names


Part One
Causes: Economic Divergence in West and West- Central Africa
Timelines for Part One
1  ‘Three Measures of Gold’: The Rise and Fall of the Great Empires of the Sahel
2  Causeways across the Savannah: From Senegambia to Sierra Leone
3  Ready Money: The Gold Coast and the Gold Trade
4  Rivers of Cloth, Masks of Bronze: The Bights of Benin and Biafra
5  The Kingdom of Kongo: From Majesty to Revolt
Coda to Part One

Part Two
Consequences: Politics, Belief and Revolutions from Below
Timeline for Part Two: West African Political History, c. 1680–1850
Prologue to Part Two
6  ‘With Boots Worth 3 Slaves’: Slavery and Value in the Eighteenth Century
7  On a War Footing: The ‘Fiscal- Military State’ in West African Politics
8  Feeding Power: New Societies, New Worldviews
9  Transnational Africas, Struggle and the Rising of Modernity
10  Warrior Aristocracies and Pushback from Below
11  Let them Drink Rum! Islam, Revolution and the Aristocracy


List of Illustrations

New Book | John Reeves

Posted in books by Editor on April 14, 2020

From ACC Art Books:

Kate Bailey, John Reeves: Pioneering Collector of Chinese Plants and Botanical Art (New York: ACC Art Books, 2019), 176 pages, ISBN: 978-1788840316, £35 / $50.

This is the story of John Reeves (1774–1856) and the Reeves Collection of botanical paintings, the result of one man’s single-minded dedication to commissioning pictures and gathering plants for the Horticultural Society of London.

Reeves went to China in 1812 and immediately on arrival started sending back snippets of information about manufactures, plants and poetry, goods, gods, and tea to Sir Joseph Banks. Slightly later, he also started collecting for the Society. But despite years of work collecting, labelling, and packing plants and organising a team of Chinese artists until he left China in 1831, Reeves never enjoyed the same degree of recognition as other naturalists in China. This was possibly because he had a demanding job as a tea inspector. Reeves himself never claimed to be a professional naturalist, and the plant collecting and painting supervision were undertaken in his own time. Furthermore, fan qui (foreign devils) were restricted to the port area of Canton and to Macau, so that plant-hunting expeditions further afield were impossible. Furthermore, Reeves never published an account of his life in the country, unlike Clarke Abel and Robert Fortune, but he left us some letters, notebooks, drawings, and maps.

The collection is held at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library in Vincent Square, London. It is a magnificent achievement. Not only are the pictures accurate and richly coloured plant portraits of plants then unknown in the West, but they stand as a record of plants being cultivated in nineteenth-century Canton and Macau. In John Reeves: Pioneering Collector of Chinese Plants and Botanical Art, Kate Bailey reveals John Reeves’s life as an East India Company tea inspector in nineteenth-century China and shows how he managed to collect and document thousands of Chinese natural history drawings, far more than anyone else at the time.

Kate Bailey started working life as a reluctant solicitor. At the age of 54, on the strength of a magazine article about a paper conservator, she abandoned the law and enrolled at Camberwell College of Arts for a degree in paper conservation. After obtaining an M.A. and being accepted for a Ph.D., for three years Kate stalked Reeves in libraries, museums, and auction houses while at the same time drawing on her own childhood memories of Singapore and Hong Kong in the early 1950s. A post-doctoral year at the V&A followed, working on a collaborative project into the pigments found on Chinese export paintings using the Reeves pictures for comparison. Then came a request for a book to bring the work of a modest, dedicated East India Company tea inspector and his band of skilfull Chinese painters to a wider audience. Kate continues to research, write, and lecture on Reeves and related art-botanical subjects.


Letter to the Reader

1  Mr Reeves’ Drawings
2  Mr Reeves Sails to China
3  Mr Reeves Arrives in Canton
4  Mr Reeves Writes to Sir Joseph Banks
5  Mr Reeves Goes Plant Hunting in Macao
6  Mr Reeves Commissions Drawings
7  Mr Reeves Collects Plants
8  Mr Reeves Creates a Collection

Index of Plants
General Index