Enamels “Ancient” and “Rare”: The “Summer Palace” Market in Imperial England
The plunder of the Yuanmingyuan in 1860 brought new kinds of Chinese decorative arts to Britain. British collectors and dealers grappled with these novelties and established the market in Chinese imperial art over the next several years, quickly bringing a known system of values to material of which they had little knowledge. Emerging connoisseurs of this material focussed their attention first on Qing enameled wares, which had clear economic, social and artistic values, which could easily be understood and communicated in an unstructured marketplace. The judgments and choices they made laid the groundwork for the market in Chinese imperial art today.
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