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University Of Virginia Art Museum Hosts Only East-Coast Showing Of “Treasures From An Unknown Reign: Shunzhi Porcelain”

January 15, 2002--
WHAT: “Treasures from an Unknown Reign: Shunzhi Porcelain”

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 25, through Sunday, March 23

WHERE: University of Virginia Art Museum

In 17th-century China, potters and painters developed an innovative style as they found new patrons during tumultuous times. Conquests by the Manchus and civil war in 17th-century China led artists away from their traditional support by the emperor and his court as their power declined. Instead, the artists found patronage among the literati and the increasingly affluent merchants and collectors of China’s east coast. The artists shifted their designs to appeal to the tastes of these new connoisseurs. Landscape paintings on pottery depicting narrative themes based on plays, novels and stories from Chinese history were developed during this period. The innovative colors, shapes and painted scenes evolved into a style now recognized as Shunzhi, named after the child-emperor and first of the Quing Dynasty.

The only east coast showing of “Treasures from an Unknown Reign: Shunzhi Porcelain” at the University of Virginia Art Museum includes 87 porcelain objects from this period. During Shunzhi’s reign export was reduced, and imperial porcelain was not produced. Scholars neglected this period until the 1980s, when a Chinese shipwreck containing 23,000 porcelain wares from the Shunzhi period was discovered in the South China Sea by captain Michael Hatcher. This discovery has enabled scholars to accurately date these ceramics.

Porcelains in the exhibit are on loan from public and private collections in England, France and the United States, including Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Butler Family Collection, the largest and most comprehensive collection of 17th-century Chinese porcelain in the world.

Accompanying the exhibit is a 252-page full-color catalog that gives unprecedented detail in identifying the narrative scenes and botanical symbols depicted on the porcelains, placing them in art historical context.

A symposium, in conjunction with the exhibit, is scheduled for March 21-22. Noted international scholars and major collectors of Chinese porcelain will gather to discuss this little-known period of Chinese porcelain production.

The exhibition is organized by Art Services International of Alexandria and supported by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. The showing at the U.Va. Art Museum is made possible by the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation with additional support from Lane F. and Christian L. Becken, Gunilla and James Godfrey, Olivia and Leslie Grayson, Gail and David Haines and Felicia Rogan.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Limited parking is available behind the museum.

For details about the exhibit and information about the museum, call (434) 924-3592 or visit the Web site

Images are available. Contact Jane Ford at (434) 924-4298 or

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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