158 Provenance Research Across Cultures and disciplines: Some New Approaches

Building Bridges: New Points of Intersection Between Art and the World
Thursday, July 13, 2017: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM
Turnbull Room (University of Glasgow)
The looting and destruction of parts of the Chinese Imperial Summer Palace complex by Anglo-French troops during the Second Opium War (1857-60), created a stir that has reverberated down the centuries. Today the incident remains a recurring issue of cultural patrimony for China and marks a particular low point in historical Sino-Franco-British relations. The sore is kept alive by the looted objects that were brought back by the French and British at the end of the campaign and which survive in public and private collections, some of which periodically appear for sale on the art market. At the time of their looting and in the decades immediately following, a provenance to the Summer Palace was in Europe a signifier of quality, rarity and political dominance. Now such a provenance is politically controversial, but conducive for a high hammer price. But what is the true provenance of works of art designated as ‘From the Summer Palace’? How definitive is that provenance? This paper will look at the evidence through a number of case studies, revealing the difficulties involved in ‘placing’ many of the works of art that returned with the troops in the wake of the conflict.
Nick John Pearce
Discussant :
Nick John Pearce