Subject:Re: Best resources to learn about Asian Art
Posted By: JLim Sun, Sep 24, 2017
Welcome to the world of Asian antiques. It is definitely an intriguing area but is hampered by TWO factors above all; one, the faking industry in Asia is a billion dollar industry; and two, there is a fearful amount of ignorance out there, even among people who are dealing in the stuff.
Therefore, I cannot emphasise enough; learn up BEFORE splurging on alleged Asian antiques, no matter how convincing the old dude at the stall is. It is no trial to learn up on this stuff; it is fascinating and culturally rich. Start buying low cost but definitely genuine objects. Examine the objects very closely and compare to what you are reading.
You are almost bound to make mistakes at the start; just keep the mistakes cheap and enjoyable!
As for resources, I recently posted the following list of useful books on another thread. The books ONLY deal with Chinese porcelain, not the bronze artefacts you like, but anyway, here it is. If you have to start somewhere, get the HOBSON book cheap off Ebay, and get ALLEN's book too. Then branch out.
Others, of course, can recommend books on Meiji bronzes, bronze Buddhas, champlevé, etc.
* * * * *
I hold with the view of Anthony Allen that the older books are still surprisingly good sources. They tend to concentrate on export porcelains, for one thing, while modern books tend to focus on Imperials. They are also closer in history to the Qing dynasty (in Bushells case the Qing Dynasty was still operating), so there are really useful anecdotes about porcelain making and buying back in the day.
Stephen W Bushell "Oriental Ceramic Art" - from 1896 - I was lucky enough to find a copy in an antiques store. Still surprisingly useful, with great anecdotes about how to buy porcelain in the late Qing era, and with many full colour plates. This in an era when "colour plates" meant some dude in a European museum squinting at a vase for hours and trying to paint it in watercolours!
Hobson "Chinese Pottery And Porcelain" from the 1930s - available cheap on Ebay. Still EXTREMELY useful and covers export ware heavily.
Soame Jenyns "Later Chinese Porcelain" also from the 1930s I think. Covers export ware nicely!
Nigel Wood "Chinese Glazes" from the 1980s - an utterly remarkable book. It is really useful to be able to learn how all these glazes were originally made - in a pinch one can remember the difference between Copper Red, Iron Red and Rouge De Fer, for example. And what is the true difference between Celadon and Apple Green?
Anthony J Allen "Introduction To Later Chinese Porcelain" - an absolute bible. Charmingly written, useful to people in the rough and tumble of actual porcelain collecting rather than the quiet of the museum. The original hardback (which I got at an exorbitant price) has stunning, stunning photographs that are really useful for actual collectors. Allen's later books are fine, but this one is the masterpiece.
"The Wanli Shipwreck And Its Ceramic Cargo" available from Sjen Sjostrand's website - check it out for a really thorough look at Transitional Era export porcelain circa 1625 - stunning photos.
Gerald Davison's book on Chinese marks - a thorough catalogue of Chinese porcelain marks - a true godsend.
I would recommend all the above as a good start to a Chinese porcelain collector's reference library. Then start collecting Sotheby's catalogues.