Exhibiting and Auctioning Yuanmingyuan ("Summer Palace") Loot in 1860s and 1870s London: The Elgin and Negroni Collections
This article examines the exhibitions and sales of Yuanmingyuan (or ‘Summer Palace’) loot taken from China in October 1860 by two soldiers in the Anglo-French armies – James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin (1811-1863) and Captain Jean-Louis de Negroni (b.1820). Both men displayed their collections before auctioning them – the former in the prestigious South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) in 1862; the latter in a well known exhibitionary site, the Crystal Palace in Sydenham in 1865. Such displays and public exhibitions were used as a device for enhancing the value of collections destined for the art market. This article thus explores the inter-relationship between museum/exhibition sites and auction houses in the selling of looted objects from China’s Yuanmingyuan in 1860s and 1870s London.
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Copyright (c) 2018 Louise Tythacott
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